May 20th, 2013
You will find a lot of music on this site that can be accessed in two ways: 1) hit the play button on the player in the upper right hand corner of each page, 2) the site is set up with a ‘one shot’ player (a speaker and play button icon) that I use to drop in pretty much any kind of audio I want including hot-off-the-griddle excerpts of new tunes I’m writing and recording.
Much of my music is influenced by the socio-political happenings of the day and I spend a lot of time thinking about and discussing with friends and colleagues WHAT’s GOING ON as part of a life-long calling I’ve had to revel in the beautiful aspects of life and to continually work towards a deeper understanding of the not so beautiful aspects of how the human race functions. A lot of what I write comes from what I see as our collective inability to put human and environmental welfare before the obsession with material gain and how we continually allow such a tiny minority of people to have such a drastic concentration of power and money.
This is indeed a BLOG site so you’ll see various blog posts on the main page and on various project pages regarding my thoughts and activities. Over on the right, below, I’ve got links to some of the inspiring people out there who are true revolutionary visionaries when it comes to creating and pushing for the desperately needed transformation we need. Also there are a few of my brief writings and my travel blogs.
Don’t forget to sign my mailing list if you dig what you see, hear, read.
May 19th, 2013
(Written by Matt Jenson) The Liquid Revolution band teamed up with renowned author and social philosopher Frances Moore Lappé for two nights of concerts at the Davis Square Theater in Somerville, MA on May 17 and 18, 2013. You might know Frances as she wrote the famous book “Diet for a Small Planet” back in the 70’s. Basically she’s spent her whole life, as she puts it, “trying to figure out how we got into this mess, and trying to figure out how to get out of it.” I met her some 4 years ago when she came to Berklee and did a faculty forum presentation. I had never heard of her but loved what she was saying and bought her then current book, “Getting a Grip.” After reading it I was flat out blown away. To me she does an unbelievable job at clearly identifying problems, complete with all kinds of catch phrases, like “believing is seeing”, or “one rule economy” (which is that wealth returns to wealth, continually widening the income gap), and then offers real world examples of solutions that are possible. She digs in to the core of all of it. Inspiring! So inspiring to me that, especially witnessing her animated speaking style, I proposed to her that we do a concert where my band would back her up as she reads excerpts from her writings. She loved the idea and after releasing my Dragonfly Taxi, I saw the opportunity to make this a reality….and thus came our shows which we officially entitled: “Believing is Seeing: Reggae, Recitation and Rhythm for the World We Want.” This plays off the title of her current book, “EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want.”
Frances and the staff at her Small Planet Institute jumped on board and along with a few interns and volunteers went to work helping to promote and organize these shows. It was such a giant help to have this support! As we were promoting it became evident that people were confused as what these shows were: a talk given by Frances followed by a concert? A concert of music inspired by Francis but not really involving her? What the heck was going on?
This is what we did: Many months before the shows I gave Frances a copy of my Dragonfly Taxi CD, along with a copy of the lyrics to the songs I wanted to play. Then I asked her to extract about 8 excerpts from her writings that would somehow relate to my songs and last anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Then we meticulously created a set list where the Liquid Revolution band would play a song, then Frances would step up to the mic and deliver her excerpt while we brought the volume of the band down and continued to groove as she spoke. For those of you who know the reggae world, we put Frances’ speaking over dub sections. (Dub is a format created by Jamaican musicians, sound engineers and DJ’s back in the 70’s where records would be produced leaving out the vocals, horns and stripping it down to just the bass, drums, keyboards, percussion leaving space for the use of effects [delay, reverb and anything else that could be thought of] while many times a DJ would do live toasting on the mic…..really, the beginnings of Rap!) Our goal was to make a continuously moving set where we smoothly would go into our next tune as soon as she finished. You get the idea now? A rocking concert of provocative and grooving original reggae music injected with Frances’ super conscious message! Not a sit down affair. We wanted people to be dancing the whole time! If you wanna see what our set list looked like, check it here!
Frances really took our concept to task and presented not simply random excerpts from her writings (most of which came from her newest book EcoMind), but she created an entire story starting with a clarification of what some of the problems are: “I see our dominant mental map, now going global, destroying life. Why? Because it’s perversely aligned with nature – even our own nature.” And by the end she lit up a bright light of possibility for a positive outcome: “Living democracy meets our deepest need for connection, meaning and power. It’s a way of life that sustains life. Living democracy means getting money out of our rigged democracy and setting rules together to bring out the best in our species.” I mirrored her map by putting my more cutting political tunes first, “Must Be Free”, “The Material Shuffle, “Believing is Seeing” and towards the end playing the beautiful and uplifting songs from the album, “Liquid Shiva” and “Again and Again.”
(Incidentally, I find Frances’ work so inspiring that I wrote, recorded and produced a single called “Believing is Seeing,” a funky Latin rap JAM that includes samples of Frances. It will be for sale soon!)
Frances had never done anything like this before and was completely excited as this was an opportunity for her to bring to life one of her dreams which is to come back in another life as a musician! The first night we had to work out a few kinks but the second night, Frances was much more comfortable on the mic and the band really knew how to deliver the songs and our back-up music for her.
The shows were quite well received! We delivered a potent, REAL and ultimately uplifting message that hit people not only on an intellectual level, but on a deep physical level, as everyone was moving and grooving. We took Reggae music’s long history of consciousness raising to a new and very contemporary level.
AND, we plan to continue doing it! Stay tuned to mattjenson.com and smallplanet.org for our next moves, which will include the production of a video documentary about these shows, and future concert dates.
February 2nd, 2013
At the risk of being dramatic, Dragonfly Taxi could be the defining work of Matt Jenson’s life on so many dimensions: musically, spiritually and politically. His lyrics capture the turmoil and mess that is damaging the planet and its people, but his spin gives me hope and a reason to be optimistic for something to change for the better. I think that people may be inspired to be part of making some of the change happen after listening to and absorbing Matts thoughts.
After listening to the first few tunes, we realized that this album is reggae for the world. Matt has embraced the art form created years ago by people without a voice and brought it into the bigger, current arena. It’s so difficult to express reactions to music, especially the heartfelt creations of a dear friend. The risk is that our words come across as trite or just not sufficient to relay the emotions. All of what I’m writing is truly genuine, honest, and said with great respect for the incredibly powerful blend and new form Matt’s generated.
From a musical perspective, Matt’s voice and playing sounds great, the entire production is top shelf – tight. He’s gathered some incredible musicians in his fold and the positive chemistry really projects. This is inspirational music with deep impact. And, you just want to dance!!
Listening to Matt’s musical creation is a honor.
- Stephanie Ancona and Neal Chalek
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I LOVE THE ALBUM! This album is like traveling to a small European country, finding a small, high quality coffee shop and ordering a small specialty coffee or espresso. It doesn’t look like much but when you take a sip you realize that it’s POOOOOOOOTENT! There are so many things going on; chord inversions, melodies, nuances, anecdotes and a whole bunch of upfront AND subliminal conscious utterances….this is no one day listen, trust me on that. Well done squire!
- – Amlak Tafari, Yellow Wall Productions and bassist with Steel Pulse
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LOVE your CD. I’m not exaggerating when I say that for me, its the hippest, and all around best reggae album I’ve heard since the great Bob records. Incredible arranging, humor, intelligent social consciousness, singing, vibe. It’s a huge project that you took on, and you hit it out of the park!! Congrats, and it has my vote for reggae album of the decade. Not exaggerating.
- John Funkhouser
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Your presentations are not only professionally superb, but your message is thought provoking inspiring and in my opinion so right on. This last one so hits the head of the nail. How can we have a system based on perpetual expansion and growth on a finite planet is beyond me. Why the right wingers can’t open up to reality is beyond comprehension. Are we the next Atlantis?
I am so thankful to be on your email list. You are a breath of fresh air……clean air.
- Malcolm Carnwath
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AMAZING ARTIST ALERT!!! Check out Matt Jenson’s amazing new reggae release. Great tunes, vibe and production on this. I can’t stop playing this CD…it is a pleasure to find an artist of this musical caliber who actively commits his talents towards a powerful social message of positivity, love and living well on the planet. please support this effort, go to his website and buy it! You will love it…here is a clip of how it came together.
- Thaddeus Hogarth (Guitarist on the album)
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Bless Matt! Just want to Ifficially “thank you” and salute you for completing the vision of the Dragonfly Taxi project! I am honored to have been invited to participate in the production of this truly instant classic! Your “song-crafting” skills are surely on par with your instrumental skill level. Your talents are complete and are evident in this recording! I am hopeful that the sheer quality of the contents of this recording will be embraced for what it is; superb! I feel as if I am purposefully hearing the works appear to my ears in deliberate high definition! The mix is lacking nothing! Give thanks for the quality time you invested in making sure that the work is of a “world class” caliber in all aspects of modern music production. On behalf of the 99%’s, I give thanks for the powerful lyrical outcry of the poor and marginally disenfranchised that you share in “Must be Free!” Really, it seems that in all of humankind’s struggle to exist, at some level, money becomes the apparent denominator of who/what is right or wrong, the winner or loser…Every other living thing on earth is free from living in that dynamic except human beings. Finally, give thanks for picking Man up for a ride in the Dragonfly Taxi!
- Tuff Lion (Guitarist on the album)
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Speaking from my heart, Matt’s essence is about DOING. How many people have I heard and seen talk about change in the last forty years?? How many have actually walked the walk, talked the talk, and sung the song?? Not ENOUGH, but to spend a moment in Matt’s company is to FEEL the heart and pulse of that distant “song” coming closer and CLOSER!
DRAGONFLY TAXI sings of groove and life with passion, and speaks of social injustice with vision… But MOSTLY … it
I N S P I R E S us to think, ponder, question, plan, act (as opposed to react), celebrate, breathe, look at what’s REALLY there and actually …
Matt Jenson’s music and message is creatively provocative and evocative, and is an intensely profound wakeup call toward our need to MOVE forward and embrace what really matters! The production, compositions, lyrics, musicianship, concept, and individuality all dance with effortless excellence!
This is a project that is at a whole new level of passion, commitment to action, and ARTISTIC VISION!!
Well done, Mr. Jenson.
- Harry Skoler, Professor – Berklee College of Music
November 10th, 2012
I’m very honored to be included on this fantastically produced retrospective on Bob Marley’s life, 30 years after his death. It’s a 25 minute piece by British poet Lemm Sessay including inspiring words by Babba Mall, Esther Anderson, Chris Salewicz, myself and others. Thanks to Ms. Dilly Barlow for reaching out to me. Check it!
November 9th, 2012
On December 1st, 2011 the REBEL TUMBAO KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN came to a close and it was a resounding success. We far surpassed our goal!! I am truly humbled and incredibly thankful to all those who contributed, not just financially, but with their hearts and souls.
Check out this video from Rebel Tumbao kickstarter campaign HQ with reports from the California and France fronts!