good artists seem to lead us closer; closer to each other, closer to this world, closer to the joyous & suffering & mysterious beauty of aliveness. vaughn montgomery, as is plain in these eleven songs, is one of these artists -- vaughn’s a leader-to-life, a liaison-to-here, a revelator of the sacred in the nicked and little and common. though this album sounds kind of countryish, kind of folksy, the more apt description might be something highfalutin’ like “tremblingly inmost” or “kindly mystic” or “rich with soul.” or one might invoke -- at least in regards to some of these songs -- a japanese phrase, often used in regards to haiku, mono no aware: the sweet sadness inherent in time passing.
in greek mythology charon ferried souls over the river styx, taking for payment the coins placed before burial in the mouths of the dead. vaughn is a kind of reverse charon, rowing the opposite direction with the sun dawning in his throat, returning us to the land of the living, to the kingdom of here, in all of its strange calico glory. & what does he take for payment? only that we slow down, lean in, & unstopper our ears. & yes, maybe a couple coins so he can hopefully make for us a few more songs.
it is said that when the storke was delivering baby vaughn to the montgomery family, he had to stop many times along the way. baby vaughn already had many treasures to share with his new friends and family: records, sticks & stones, & an old el camino. the storke, being quite fatigued from the heavy load, had to stop and rest frequently. baby vaughn asked, "why do we stop so much?" the storke replied, "always we stop to smell the roses, young boy."
many years later, vaughn has not forgotten the storke's good advice. he helps us to scream "wow!" at the tops of our lungs when we see a cow grazing. dolphins become spirit-riders, kelp becomes chumash fireworks, & old rustic cabins smell like god. vaughn asked me once at 2:30 a.m., "why are you leaving so early? we are all going to die one day! enjoy!" how could I argue with that? so I stayed for another drink...
so when the storke was flying, they grew very thirsty. the storke said, "you should be waiting for mother's milk, but I suppose a litttle lick of honey would not hurt!" so they stopped at a bee's nest & asked for a lick of honey. the bees at the hive said, "now listen baby vaughn, this stuff is going to make you sing with a golden honey throat!" it was after that first lick of honey that vaughn wrote his debut song, "don't give me money honey, give me honey, honey." though the song has yet to be recorded, it was the first of many that friends & family would grow to love. these songs take us to the dark secret gardens of the past, & the bright candle flickers of the tommorow. if while playing a guitar, keyboard, kazoo, suitcase, or pebble filled can, you make a request... it is granted. if it is not possible, vaughn will at least offer you some homemade food & a cold beer...
yes....yes...back to the story. when the storke finally arrived in the hills of ojai, the-father-of-vaughn-to-be was out working. at the expense of losing his job delivering bread, he raced home to greet the new infant with the mother-of-vaughn-to-be. many family & friends gathered to see the new boy. how happy the were. the father declared, "we should make a party this evening in honor of vaughn's arrival!" baby vaughn responded, "isn't this a party now?"
vaughn montgomery is one of my all time favorite humans. we used to pass each other out in the line up surfing from time to time before we traded names. then one day he wrote his phone number on my dusty car window. i called him & ended up finding my way into a musical instrument filled basement. he was living with his cousins mike vos & ted lennon. for the next few years we played music with many different configurations of cousins & friends. for a short period I was vaughn's drummer in a band that consisted of me & him. being a part of his songs was inspiring. vaughn was one of the first people to give me the confidence to sing my own songs out loud. he moved to new york, fell in love, made more music & a beautiful family. but enough from me - listen to vaughn tell his own stories in his group of songs called "small goals."
halloween jam with jack & morgan. the tin foil allowed us to play with no hands.
the j.v. play a home game in trenchtown to honor captain johnny gill's journey to africa. that's captain gill in the middle, farhaan vaan (left) & teddy macker (right).
it is a gift to find those who live from the heart & not the mind. who sing & rejoice in the people around them….
if you would like to experience the music of a man with true sincerity & compassion for life, & love, who believes in the goodness of all beings he encounters, i would recommend you find yourself listening to small goals: an album by a brother who has changed my life by living from his heart.
a humandala for the bound for laurie concert with jeff free lennon at bottom center.
i've known vaughn montgomery a long time. i love him, not just with brotherly love or because he's always there when i need his friendship. i love him like i love woody guthrie or sixties folk heroes or wandering twelfth century french troubadours.
i see a lot of compromise in today's society & not a lot of soul. i've always known vaughn to be a throwback, a caretaker; not a figment of the past, but an essential link. it's not just a man's art that reminds us where we come from & where we might go -- it's also a man's spirit. i can hear it in his songs & know its truth in our adventures.
my most worldly friend, sean lotman, on the way to work in kyoto.