Take Some Chopin With Your Tea

Of course, I don’t need any convincing as to the power of music but when I read this piece on the brain in The New Yorker (the level of my bathroom reading has reached new heights of late)… I knew that I had to share  this with y’all.

It turns out, that when Dr Shewmon entered college (Harvard) he was an avowed atheist, but one morning, while listening to Chopin’s Trois Nouvelles Études No.2 in his dorm room he had an epiphany. The music had lifted him into such a state of ecstasy that he no longer thought it possible that all conscious experience, particularly one’s perception of beauty, could be (as is taught in 99.99% of medical universities around the world) a ‘mere electrophysiological epiphenomenon’. The music, you see, had transcended for him “all of the spiritual limitations of matter.”

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

Shewmon would convert to Catholicism to study Aristotelian-Thomastic philosophy and, for the past 20 years or more, he has been, not just one of the world’s leading neurologists, but an annoying pebble in the shoes of all the ’sensible’ doctors and scientists in his field.

If you are in need of an epiphany yourself, may I prescribe a course of Chopin and then perhaps a long walk in the woods.

First House Concert of 2018

We have officially kicked off the 2018 House Concert season with a great Party in the Casa Clark gardens in San Juan Capistrano. It will be the first of many, not just locally in southern California but also in homes & gardens all across the US, NZ, Australia and Europe. We are in the planning mode…  so watch this space for an upcoming event near you.

This first one was sold out, with standing room only. 60 people of all ages and backgrounds shared food, wine and stories (many of them meeting for the first time) while us musicians played several sets of our favorite tunes, a mixture of folk, jazz, soul, gospel and world music.

The band featured the world renowned British musician Terl Bryant (Iona, Peter Gabriel, John Paul Jones) on drums, Danny Ybarra on percussion, Sandra Stephens and Cerissa Mc Queen on vocals and Chris Falson on vocals, guitar and bad jokes.

Click here if you are interested in hosting one of these events. 

Or to get a little taste of the evening, check out these other videos posted (by audience members) on Facebook.


Fondue for the Soul

As our Party for the Soul tour continues, we are heading north to partner with our friends in Switzerland. From Dec 1st through to Jan 11 (2017) we will be ‘doing our thing’ in bars, clubs, Churches up and down the country… with a few impromptu House concerts thrown in for our very generous hosts… and anyone game enough to invite us in. With more events to be confirmed…

Here’s a little taste of some (very live) Fondue for the Soul…


A Piece of the Puzzle

I was thinking today of the deep sense of belonging I have when, after I am able to find the quietness in me, I can be still long enough to ‘enter’ God’s presence. All I need is a moment, and the weight of the world falls from my shoulders and I remember once again who I am… and that I have some value… and an important job to do.


I am not sure what your typical day looks like but mine is mostly one of chaos in which I am constantly battling my way through a jungle of work, stress, finances, emotional ups and downs, fatigue, ‘getting older’, other people’s expectations of me and my own distorted view of the path ahead.


When David so beautifully wrote “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere…” he knew what he was talking about.
We are each designed to be an important part of a puzzle… of God’s great plan. The plan doesn’t make sense unless all the pieces of the puzzle are in place.
I need you to be you as much as you need me to be me.
We spend so much of our time not really knowing who we are or believing the lie that we don’t have anything of value to offer our community… and or we see more value in another and so then we try to be like him or her… and that doesn’t work… no matter how hard we try.This is why… the one moment alone with our “Dad’ is so imperative.
Without water we dehydrate, without oxygen we suffocate, and without some aloneness with His spirit we depreciate our own spirit, our identity and our value to each other.
So please do me a favor will you… put down your phone… and take a stroll along the beach or sit for a few minutes in the garden or hide yourself away in the attic, or turn off the car radio on your way home from the office… and be silent and try to enter that mysterious place of welcome, of identity, of permission… to be encouraged, to be reminded of the simplicity of who you are and how valuable you are to the rest of us.
I need you.


A Simple Practice of Letting Go

Cast all your cares upon him for he cares deeply about you.

Its a great little passage of new testament scripture but used more often than not as a cliche or throw away line from a ‘sincere’ care giver.

But this casting or letting go of ‘our cares and woes’ is a method that counselors and therapists  have used for centuries in the treatment of emotional and mental afflictions.

In essence, Jesus is offering to be our counselor… our therapist. An offer you should seriously consider… his rates are quite reasonable.

Here is a little prayer practice of mine that I use in my own quiet times and in larger group training sessions on identity and creativity.

Continue reading “A Simple Practice of Letting Go”

I’m Stuffed

Water-pourImagine your life as a bottle of water… full to the brim.

But you want more… more of everything…

The thing is… there is no room for anything more. You are full up.

May I suggest you pour out a little of your ‘self’ from the bottle… and make room for something new and fresh to ‘drop in’.


Silver and Gold

We each have something priceless, a ‘thing we do’… that we take for granted, often unable to recognize its value or worth to others.

Some of us can create a gourmet meal out of bread crumbs and leftovers, or see the potential in an old ramshackle house and turn it into a mansion, or enter a pig stye and tidy and clean it as if it were our own, or sit, listen and stay with someone who needs to download their grief or the gripes, or keep a secret and rebuild broken trust, or hug and hold and carry a deeply wounded person, or just be there for that broken soul when all seems lost.

Most of these actions of love go unheralded. Rarely do leaders or public speakers applaud the many actions of unconditional love by ordinary folk on a day to day basis. There is no big story or answer… just lots of little conversations.

I don’t have too many of the qualities mentioned above… neither do I have an abundance of silver and gold… but I can sit and strum and sing for hours to someone who needs a little peace. And regarding this small thing… I am slowly learning that, in a way, it’s my contribution to the community around me.


Falling in Love Again

A story of escaping the prison of professionalism after finding love inside the music.

I was raised to be a professional musician. To play all the right notes at the right time. Nothing more and nothing less. Do the job, take the money and move on to the next gig.Barry-300x300

Like a coal miner’s son I was born into a trade and a tribe that I would serve, through good times and bad for the rest of my days. They’d bury me with my guitar and my union card.

I had a dinner suit for the bigger clubs and casino shows, blue jeans, black T’s and doc martins for the smaller pubs and seedier clubs, an array of guitars and amps, skills and ‘guitar licks’ enough in the genre’s of jazz, blues, rock and country music to make a decent living. After several hundred club gigs I graduated up into the recording studio brotherhood and, as a professional I was on time, I played my parts proficiently and I got the job done.  I continued to rise through the ranks and soon I was performing on network Television.

I had made it and as much as a guitar player can be, I was model professional.

Now and then in the midst of this professional journey I would be foolish and play music for fun… on my own of course, in a room somewhere private… where no one could hear me… and I would fall upon little treasures that I didn’t understand or know what to do with… and so, I would keep them to myself and then go off onto my next professional gig, keep my head down and do my job.

But, like a child reading his first Agatha Christie novel… I could not put ‘the book’ down… or stay away from my closet musings with my guitar and these little noodlings or melodies of childlike lyrics… all of which… was very unlike the professional I was trained to be. For, without realizing it, I was falling in love… with music and these simple little musical ideas and chordal shapes.

imgres-2I would stumble upon a basic uncomplicated chord progression and begin to imagine a rock pool or a mountain stream and I would sit there and let the peace wash over me. Then I would hear someone walking down the hall towards my hideout and I would hurriedly put my guitar away as if I had been caught doing something naughty.

Continue reading “Falling in Love Again”