Helping hands hold humanity together, piece by piece, brick by brick. Small, subtle miracles are the glue we take for granted, the fortune we fail to realize we’ve been handed, opportunity as a result of others’ good will, we’ve been granted. The tendency to reduce ourselves to our worst parts, induces scars that we’re left to carry. But scars tell a story like the stars paint the night sky, do not give them power, wondering why. Embrace their lessons, observe their beauty, and navigate their repetition. Dare to see more in yourself, than you did the day before, by believing in yourself, just a little bit more. Walk through the doors others are kind enough to open; be the relief and solution for which others are hoping. Given two hands: one to hold, and one to help. Given a heart beat, to give a shit. Given life to live, not to quit. Pick up the pieces so we help others learn to do the same. Two steps forward, one step back – progress is a process, not quite exact. Hang in there, you must be getting close. Hang in there, others need you more than you know. Learn to love yourself as much as you love others, doubt is a great weight to tow. Quit reducing yourself, you know how hard you’ve been working to grow. It’s a good day to give yourself some credit, by cutting yourself some slack. No matter the narrative and timeline in your head, you’re right on track. I wish you could see the blessings upon your horizon, but you’re so busy looking back.
Here’s to the festival warrior inside of all of you. We have discovered an oasis of conscious, free-thinkers who cannot deny the best way to consume music is at the all you can eat buffet under the sun, stars, moon, and great sky which loves and laughs at us all for our confused and contradictory way of life. Our earth simultaneously loves and absorbs the good vibrations we beam from our being in the form of rhythm, harmony, dancing feet and exhalations of joy and temporary madness as a result of finding freedom if only to see its volunteered surrender once the moment has passed; but our earth’s love turns to shrugs when we leave its temple in place of cities built to resemble a dream which few of us possess yet are slowly crushed from its stress while we try to dress and live the part but who are we really fooling at all?
Don’t stop your discovery; don’t let the dream die; you can look to the sky but it will not save or condemn you, the power is your own, grown from good will and intentions sewn together, at home together, stronger than buildings built of cement, detention and guilt, unattainable in a pill or a thrill but found in the chill quivering down your spine when a single human being possesses the power and self awareness to make a dream our dream, his dream, her dream, the dream made reality without the threat of senility but certainty of awakening and a future worth taking, making, and liberating from the soul to the source to the mind, body and spirit without fear of it and what’s to come when we bang a drum to the sound of a beat with a cadence not yet realized, owned, or controlled.
You’ve got to carry your love. It will be heavy and strength is required. For precisely this reason we must evaluate our multitude of efforts to discover where we are inconsistently showing up. Life is too often like riding a wave: speed and momentum build while we surf towards a seemingly endless sun until we crash into a violent ocean with a sea of obstacles beneath. While it’s rarely easy, we get better at getting up and falling less. Balance comes from recognition of where pressure is applied, yet too often we overlook the pressure points we are less comfortable with. In an effort to maintain positive focus, I have the tendency to let my lesser qualities slide until they catch up with me in one way or the other. A friend of mine instilled in me a useful notion for these times lacking the usual fluidity, “Stay on path.”
It won’t happen all at once and it doesn’t need to. This morning I organized my room to help me get back on path. I did my laundry, put away my clothes which had been lingering since before my most recent Hilton Head Island and Hoxeyville adventure, returned bottles, purchased groceries, completed paperwork for a job as a caregiver, edited some photos, wrote a little bit, and worked out for the first time in a month. The only way to feel better is to be. Shake off your tendency to hide and retreat from essential and productive activities. You’ve got to carry your love, especially when it isn’t fun or romantic. You’ve got to find the beauty in the minutiae that is discipline and routine, without letting it be the death of your spontaneity. Speaking of which, I have just decided to write everyday without exception. I must will myself back into a creative rhythm for the benefit of myself and those around me. I carry my love in the ink on the skin of my wrists, but they are only words without certain action. Today is a good day to get out bed and tend to your foundation so you too can carry your love. Today is a good day to let your fear and feel of unknowing dictate or limit the direction you are going. To feel I must be present in my breath, duty to myself, and duty to others. Without consistencies we second guess each passing present holding our breath hoping it gets better without manifesting the momentum to move forward. Progress is tangible though not always visible. Doing is real before it is done because you are on your way and that’s a good start. You can’t change if you don’t start.
And you cannot evolve if you don’t see to these changes you intended, each day you wake and each night you sleep. It is impossible to keep all agendas at the forefront of focus and perspective, but we must check in to each of these independent yet intertwined sectors of our life for evaluation. Business these days seems all about metrics and predictable outcomes; let me tell you in advance the only predictable outcome of living is that it will be your greatest masterpiece despite the varying strokes along the way. What if I was to tell you that you are born with the smallest chance to be extraordinary? But each day you live intentionally, focused and willing to adjust, your odds at such a magnificent experience grow with your willingness to do so. The gift children have given me over the past year in the classroom is one I recommend for everyone. A child is pure, moved by joy, and his or her perpetual willingness to learn. Rarely are they worried about yesterday because their now focused perception demands every ounce of their focus to balance their vivacious energy. The students of FCMA reminded me that my old soul is balanced by the very same joy and energy and that is my gift in this lifetime which translates to wherever I so choose to focus my time. Children love me because I love them and would rather do what it takes to improve their day than satisfy organizational protocols. As a man who makes a living in a number of ways, people are often curious which or what I love most, or what would be my dream job; over the last six months I have come to terms that I love humans the most and they are the common denominator in my life masterpiece. Until recently I wasn’t sure in what capacity I would continue teaching, but today it is clear that I will return to the classroom in whatever capacity I am able, because my old soul needs a proper dose of presence most readily discovered in the eyes of a child.
I am grateful for my friends who helped me find a home for my substitute teaching efforts. I enjoy the comfort of returning to the same school each day where I continue to grow alongside increasingly familiar families, friends, and coworkers. Teachers have a tough hand that seems rarely talked about these days; a simultaneous struggle between building a relationship and educating a child, while jumping through bureaucratic hoops and dodging bullets in the forms of misguided and hurtful emails from parents who are quick to point a finger without considering the three staring right back at them. Montessori is a beautiful educational solution made difficult by inconsistent parent-child/teacher-child relationships. Montessori is not a solution for a child who has exhausted other educational models, nor is it successful until a child’s home embraces a similar philosophy. Too often teachers are left to accommodate for the inadequacies of parenting, all the while being scrutinized for it simultaneously. At the end of the day, yes parenting and teaching is difficult, but the likelihood of success (learning!) is significantly improved with reciprocity. Another word for reciprocity just so happens to be balance; once more it is our ability to focus our energy on the activities or efforts where success is less present that will ensure streamlined growth and evolution.
There are few problems in this world for which we are not the origin; which on a positive note means we are capable of discovering solutions once we open our eyes and accept our role in all things beautiful and devastating; we are not helpless, exhale. The life experience is intimidating when we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the faulty infrastructure present in all things; meditation enables the individual to focus on something so simple as breath to counteract the darkness of doubt with the illumination of learning and growth. Growth occurs when and where we least expect it; and that is precisely when, where and why we need it most! Great satisfaction is derived from a roadblock navigated, a storm survived, and panic transformed to ease. Our emotional grid often holds the cipher to even the most exhausting enigmas, so we must care for our bodies, trust our hearts, and slow our minds.
“If you never get lost then you never get found.”
By Kevin Alan Lamb
Inspiration is the trail of breadcrumbs left by Hansel and Gretel for us to find our way home: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros refer to “Home” in a manner that suggests it is not confound within space and time, rather it exists in all places, in all times, if we are able to maintain our connection with it: with the things, peoples, places, and notions such as happiness, care, hope, and love, that we find purpose in.
“Laugh until we think we’ll die,
Barefoot on a summer night
Never could be sweeter than with you.”
For that reason, home, is a derivative of purpose, and is realized once individuals discover it within ideas, people, songs, works of art, missions, and causes that activate them. Though long, elusive, and often lacking illumination, a ladder to the stars is imprinted upon their being: upon the very way they breathe, think, and feel.
“Home, let me come home,
home is wherever I’m with you
our home, yes, I am home,
home is when I’m alone with you.”
Once activated, the longing for not greatness but purpose, and home in all things — never dissolves. For some it is a burden, but it is only a burden once we stop listening to the song that sings in our heart; the song that sings our story to the world not to be heard, but to be harmonized, covered, and truly felt on an innate level that reminds others of their home, and their purpose.
“Love is our shelter
love is our cause
love goes on forever
yeah love will lead us all.”
Home exists in those that give you hope; in those that the very thought of brings tears of joy to your eyes; in those that have seen your goodness shine and will always remind you of it when you need it most; in those that will never let you pick up the pieces alone; in those that care more about seeing the smile on your face than anything you could ever give them in return. Home are the shivers inspired by the excitement of reciting lyrics you love from the musicians that sacrificed, experienced, and gifted you the opportunity to bathe in their creation while in the company of those that lift your head and your heart when they weigh heaviest. Home is an allusion until you discover the souls that sing in a tune that your very own is drawn to, moved by, and made better in the company of!
“Home, high on love – it’s all they want to hear. This song means so much to them that they came here tonight just to hear it. That sure is heartwarming, encouraging, humbling,” said Chris “Crash” Richard, percussionist and vocalist in Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
Nominated for a World Music Award for World’s Best Song, and World’s Best Video, the Los Angeles based indie folk band’s hit song “Home” penetrated the hearts and minds of the masses, evoking the true spirit of 1960s and 1970s hippie movement. After succumbing to addiction, disillusioned with the music business, lead vocalist Alex Ebert, 37, reinvented himself as a messianic figure called Edward Sharpe to use his gifts to inspire hope, community, and a second chance for all those who needed one.
“I’m a man on fire
Walking through your street
With one guitar
And two dancing feet
Only one desire
That’s left in me
I want the whole damn world
To come dance with me.”
Our love for each other and the music we cherish is a result of our desire to physically attribute the immense comfort and care we share for another to a tangible substance in the world, so we can experience it together! When we sing, when we dance, and when we emit joy in its purest form we are able to do it because of one another!
“Come dance with me
Over murder and pain
Come and set you free
Over heartache and shame.”
The Zeros’ are at home in each city they perform because they are bold enough to offer their vulnerability to each and every person they sing to. Make the people a part of your story and they will raise you upon their shoulders, and love you forever. I entered the photo pit at the Ranch Stage in the Electric Forest, knowing it was going to be one of those moments that resonated in my veins, forging itself into a story I would tell forever. While some are content with just observing, my relationship with the music I love requires participation; and relationships require reciprocity.
“The energy we share with fans cuts us from night to night. It makes us reflect inward,” Crash said. Crash first met Alex in studio with his first band, The Deadly Syndrome, in 2007. “I would pop in for the first few years, and kept showing up for gigs, though I wasn’t really in the band. I hopped on a bus, went on a few tours, and played bass and would sing with Alex’s solo project while playing with my band full time as a vocalist. It didn’t last very long, because the truth is, I didn’t really like playing bass, and then Seth (Seth-Ford Young) came around and that worked itself out.”
My relationship with the Zeros began at Royal Oak Music Theatre in 2012. Like he so often does, Alex invited fans on stage for his encore performance, then proceeded to sit in the crowd, while we scurried to sit by his side. I was amongst the lucky few to feel the magic pouring from his righteous soul. He completed his set and I gave him my Good Sign. Grasping it firmly he looked at me and proclaimed, “This is a Good Sign!!”
PC: Terry Shear
My friends and I connected with the Zeros outside of the venue, shared a smoke, and spent close to an hour by each other’s side. Some months later, when performing at Iroquois Amphitheater in Louisville, Alex Spotted another Good Sign in the crowd while singing “Home”. He related a Good Sign to home: a sense of belonging attributed by the people and places that offer us comfort, safety, and purpose when we need it most. Places like Rothbury, Michigan, and the Electric Forest. Three years ago I attended my first Forest, and first music festival. From Detroit I traveled Northwest with my best friend Super G, unable to grasp that I was on a course that would not simply change the rest of my days, but also those of hundreds of thousands across the globe.
“Royal Oak is a beautiful theatre. That was the year when things nearly got out of hand… We were in Philly, and Alex invited everybody to come on stage. There was no staff to protect us, our gear, or the fans on stage. They kept coming until there wasn’t any more space, and people started falling back… it was a stampede. I remember saying to myself that this doesn’t feel right,” Crash said, the night before the Zeros’ most recent performance at Royal Oak.
PC: Terry Shear
While he didn’t know it at the time, when the Zeros took the stage in Royal Oak, they would be greeted by another Good Sign. I made arrangements for my partner in crime and photographer, Terry “PMT” Shear to cover the show while I was attending Electric Forest. Upon taking the stage PMT gave Alex a Good Sign and set the mood for a magical evening, and warm up for their Rothbury set the following day. Alex asked, “Is this from Kevin Lamb?”
PMT struggled to simultaneously snap photos while carrying conversation in an intimate exchange with Alex. I woke Saturday morning to discover the photo on Instagram and intuited that it was just the beginning, of one of the best days of my life.
“A family vibe comes through a lot of our work. It’s a lot of work to be a community: life happens, great times, bad times, it’s not all good, but you work through it. We’ve become a full functioning family,” Crash said.
Moments before their set in Electric Forest, I left the very friends who were by my side when our story first began with the Zeros three years ago. Friends are the family you chose. We celebrate our love of music and each other while the moment is before us. Dreams lived while fools throw their wishes down a well. Song and dance is the perfect trance-like concoction. Our happiness and joy the cleanest intoxication. You will never take us from the music we love — we are addicts — to the perfect drug. It gives far more than it takes; unites us around the world and in a single place. The head and the heart: the best part of being so imperfectly human is no matter how far we stray from the smiles on our faces, like home – there are places within ourselves we must always return while some must learn more about the way we feel, the way we love, and the healing power of a hug.
“Love, it is our all
Love goes on forever
Yeah love it is our home.”
As difficult as it is to conceive, I was the only photographer carrying a Rage Stick in the photo pit. I carry my totem and Good Sign as a symbol to thread the fine line between the music and those dancing to it. It is a reminder that you are not alone; it is a reminder that despite the weight of struggle upon your shoulders, there are good people who will help you carry it. For the second time in as many nights in as many towns, the Zeros took the stage greeted by a Good Sign. With a perplexed gaze Alex and I made eye contact, and he asked “Was that you last night?”
I answered, “No, I am 6’7 Kevin.”
Alex repeated “6’7 Kevin” into an already ecstatic crowd who released a roar once his words reached their ears. I used my full 6’7-frame to hand him my scepter of positivity, and cherished each second that ensued. I had the best seat in the house as he began singing “40 Day Dream”, waiving my rage stick back and forth with a beloved silliness and style that is best understood by those fortunate enough to have experienced the quintessential essence of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.
“At the end of the day, Alex offers up words he can stand by, believe in, and connect with, so he does the writing, and I’m always impressed,” Crash said. “The experience depends on the night and the week. We’ve made overwhelming progress and it’s been a long journey, not just as a band, but as people. Reflecting back on the crowd turns us inside out.”
Alex shares that Edward Sharpe was sent down to earth to heal and save mankind, but often is distracted by girls. He is a man on fire, fueled by rebirth, righteousness, and redemption, who insists that you “Come celebrate, Life is hard.”
Music is my moral muse. It has been a rare constant in an inconsistent world. Life is hard; laced with struggle, dissonance, and doubt; but it is also precious, fleeting, and necessitates the prophetic paradigm provided by the love, dedication, and permission to believe everything is going to be alright. We must seek those who will provide a faint flicker of light when darkness lingers and illumination eludes. Darkness will endure if you let it chase you: light will awake your soul if you listen to its call.
“What’s closer to Bob Marley than what we’re doing? What we’re doing is borderline revolutionary. I think we’re really reaching people. Wouldn’t that be dope to be graced with Bob? The girls, singing ‘Three Little Birds’,” Crash offered as his dream collaboration.
Edward Sharpe and Bob Marley, now wouldn’t that be a treat? Their music isn’t just a reminder, rather a call to arms that we must “light up the darkness” and navigate the shadowed path or be devoured by despair. We must not fight for land and resources, but a quality of life eluded to in books, yet thieved by crooks.
“If I were free
I would run into battles with flowers and hugs
And bow at the boots of our well-oiled thugs
Yes, if I were free.”
Freedom necessitates the choice of just what type of man or woman you want to be in this life. How do you spend your time? Remember, it is precious; it is fleeting. Do you serve others or simply yourself? Do you give more than you take? Do you offer courage, or prescribe fear?
“If it were me
I would yell out ‘I love you!’ to all I passed
I would disrobe and disco and rip off my mask.”
Some find the music we love with people we love and we laugh at the world and the trivial problems that we let bring us down. We scream lyrics that have carried us through the thick and the thin; the real shit of it all. We dance wild into sweat and exhaustion and we do it together because each other is all we really have in any of this.
“Man, oh, man, you’re my best friend
I scream it to the nothingness
there ain’t nothing that I need.”
With flowers in her hair no timid man would dare to steal a kiss, on lips that remind that love will never be lost, only missed. Summer is the time for flowers — life is in the air; it is in our blood; in our eccentric celebrations — stare if you must. We run wild and playful as we dance from the streets to the grassy fields and the Electric Forest.
“I feel the love, I feel the love, I feel the power
It’s getting weirder by the hour
The world is fucked up but I want to stay
I feel the love, I feel the love, I feel the power
I’m tough enough to be a flower
The world is fucked up but I want to stay.”
By Kevin Alan Lamb
“Get excited and enthusiastic about your own dream. This excitement is like a forest fire – you can smell it, taste it, and see it from a mile away.” ~ Denis Waitley
I ventured through a magical forest in Rothbury, fueled by the very caffeine, dreams, lyrics and love that insisted I smell, taste, and see a vision of a better world, transformed into reality. With my gaze fixated upon the smiling eyes, apparent hope, and collective belief that progress must be made – not prescribed, I was delivered to a fellow trailblazer and legion of the light, Talia Keys, and the woman she loves, Melahn Atkinson.
“I grew up loving Michael Jackson, Michael Franti, Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. All these people fought for something. All these people were outspoken. All these people said f* the system here’s how I’m gonna do it,” Keys said after painting the Electric Forest Observatory stage, with equal parts rock and righteousness.
Growing up in Salt Lake City, Keys refused to be confined within the narrow archetype of what it means to be a female.
“I wanted to be a little boy when I was growing up — I didn’t identify that I was male — but I wanted to play music, play baseball, and basketball, and I wanted to be a f”ing Boy Scout. I didn’t want to wear a skirt, I didn’t want to be forced to bake and sell cookies, come on women! I wanted to build shit, build fires, go camping! Boys get to do all the fun stuff.”
Camille Keys bought her daughter’s first drum set when she was nine, instilling in her a hunger for music with a message. Each time Keys takes the stage it is with the intention to serve a jarring dose of political theatre. She speaks her mind because she has something to say; she strikes a chord to help direct those lost and lingering toward the light; and she “believe’s in the good things coming.” ~ Nahko and Medicine for the People
“I cried at Nahko’s set; I cried at Xavier’s set (Xavier Rudd); and right then and there I said I’m going to write music that people can sing along to, and that people can feel, and I changed; my music changed. My new record is eight political songs out of 11: Fool’s Gold,” Keys said while reminiscing her first music festival, Arise, in Loveland, CO.
Even the most brilliant-shining-star will burn out and fade away. Our time here is limited: our conversations are limited: our opportunities to meaningfully impact the lives of those we are fortunate enough to call kin – are limited. Only you can make the choice of just who you will share your time with. How do you care to be remembered? What weight are you willing to bear to ensure goodness prevails? What length are you willing to travel to find your voice? What heights will you climb to be certain it is heard?
“You gotta reach these kids, now more than ever. Festivals have changed. I used to be able to only find weed at festivals and now there’s so many synthetic drugs and too many kids are taking them; and not educated about it, and not taking care of their body, and they don’t think; everybody’s trying to do me” Keys said.
Each year the Forest Family arrives with a greater sense of escapism than the last. Totems displaying “F* Real Life” reveal the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities in entertainment, or fantasy. Life is both precarious and precious; so I can’t help but wonder who and what perpetuates this need for our departure from a society into which we are born free?
“A lot of people are coming to these places to get woken up, they might not realize it, but they do.”
Sherwood Forest is a mystical place made sacred by open minds, hearts, and reciprocity. It offers a context and catalyst for attendees to be awakened to a greater sense of self, society, and purpose. It unshackles those too frequently defeated and defined by discouragement and doubt. For many it is the first time permission is given to chase dreams; the first time they are told they are beautiful; and the first time they believe it.
“God I cried when I found out Michael Jackson died, he’d probably be my number one (to collaborate with), or Bob, I love Bob Marley, I would cry… He’s definitely one of those prophets, and he’s not perfect, he was an asshole too but we’re all assholes, that’s the beauty of it. Admit it. My ego gets the best of me. But if you really tap into it, the universe will be like ‘nope, no you’re not going to do this anymore’. I think people are unhappy and they don’t know why.”
Please never forget that you too, deserve to be happy. Do not be fooled into the pursuit of another’s happiness. You are beautiful and you are free to discover yourself and your happiness in the world around you. It will not come easy and it will not be given to you. Tremendous potential resides within your DNA but happiness is not accompanied by a navigational map: your choices are the road; your relationships the destination; and the most significant relationship in your life is with yourself.
Before Keys could be open to loving others, she had to work on loving herself.
“I was sober, fresh sobriety, I needed it. I was doing things for the wrong reason. I needed to check in with myself before I wrecked myself, and I was able to finally be open with my sexuality.”
Drugs and alcohol are a few of the multitude of distractions we let stand in the way of personal evolution. If happiness is absent from your life, it is time to start asking the right questions: does the company you keep encourage and empower the person you want to be? Are your days spent pursuing your passion? Are you proud of the person you are becoming? It is time to face the music, and face yourself, it’s worth it.
With the love of her life in her corner, and by her side, Keys is on a mission to promote peace, love, and happiness for all of this earth’s inhabitants.
“We met at a speakeasy in Utah, it was a Monday night blues jam. She’s the first girlfriend I ever had. I’ve dated primarily men, and I’m attracted to human beings, I mean how could I not be? I think being sober, I was finally able to open up to wanting to be political, wanting to speak my mind more than I already did. I’ve always been outspoken, I’ve always been that little shit who didn’t know when to shut up, but now I have a stage, a soap box.”
It was a serendipitous scene for Keys’ second year at Electric Forest, with the US Supreme Court ruling that guarantees the right for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 US states.
“There’s massive changing happening right here right now, look what happened two days ago, marriage, not gay marriage, just marriage.”
Like each performer who makes him or herself vulnerable to fans on a nightly basis, Keys’ time in the sun is balanced with her passing through the valley and shadow of darkness. Struggle is one of the few things within which all humans find likeness. No matter your political, religious, or sexual orientation, struggle will test you when you’re least equipped to endure it.
“I hardly ever get respect until after I play. It’s a misogynistic world. But that didn’t happen today, not here. This was very awesome. Most venues, most bars, I get treated so poorly by sound men, by the bar, by whatever, and you meet really good people everywhere but I still face this, every time. Oh ‘you want a free beer’ now, why can’t you just give me that type of kindness before?”
Despite shortness of breath and angst that results from struggle and strife, it is our conditioning in the face of these realities that enables us to grow through the discovery that our limits are merely perceptions, and our perceptions are as volatile as the weather. Although we remember progress by milestones reached, it is the miles, minutes, and days endured between our projected destination, that will define our character and measure growth. Let us see our struggles as opportunities, to be more prepared the next time we meet them. Joe Badaracco identifies leadership as a struggle by flawed human beings to make some important human values real and effective in the world as it is. From our individual struggle emerges value that can be shared to help others navigate happiness. Only through struggle does growth occur. Great artists use their personal plight to empower others.
“If Michael Jackson didn’t write political music, if Michael Franti never wrote a political song, or Nahko didn’t get political, we would be f*’ed! Meeting my girl was one of those affirmations that I was on a good path. We were both sober almost a year after then, and found out how I can do it, how I can handle it, how I can take it.”
In summer 2013, 31-year-old Keys returned to the diabetes camp where she first found her voice. She revealed her self-loathing in high school, how she felt fat and ugly, and urged the importance of being yourself.
“But for me to find my voice took a little while because I was timid. My mom is a beautiful woman, she let’s my girl and I live with her because we have too many medical bills to live on our own and I want to play music, otherwise I’d have to work for the corporate man. I’ve been diabetic since the age of 10, so I need insulin to stay alive. I pay $800 a month to breathe, that’s why I live at home. I’m 31 living in my mom’s, upstairs, it’s beautiful.”
Hold close those who will stand by your side and help you pick up the pieces. Have no shame if you’re fortunate enough to have family who will help carry you through the storm; it is a blessing. Be good to others because you never quite know the weight of struggle upon their chest, or depth of wounds in their heart. Your helping hand, words of encouragement, or ability to listen is likely enough to save someone’s life.
“I played this bar where these people’s homes where eight feet under water; they lost everything, in this town called Arraby, LA., right by the 9th ward, and literally what they did, they opened the floodgates and flooded the poor parts of town, intentionally. They intentionally flooded the poor parts of town, and saved the French Quarter, saved the historic parts of town. Maybe if they hadn’t done that those homes would have only had four feet of water and they wouldn’t have lost everything. They were playing God based off skin color, and money, and it’s just disgusting. But I was really inspired in New Orleans: they still have their heart, they still have their soul. That bar I played was underwater and it was revitalized. I opened for the open mic and it was beautiful… I got to hear real New Orleans people play their music… I was really inspired. I really think we’ve got a lot of work to do… but it’s gonna happen.”
By Kevin Alan Lamb
The summer of music and love burns in Detroit as we gear up to cover another hot Michigan music festival. In its third year, MO POP is making the move from Freedom Hill to West Riverfront Park in Detroit. A sweltering heatwave has induced a fever in the D, only satisfied by our fresh coasts and the music which moves us, grooves us, and behooves us.
Launched in 2013 as a single-day event in Sterling Heights by AEG Live, MO POP joined forces with coproducer Dan McGowan to bring this celebration of artistic ingenuity downtown. Located between downtown Detroit and Corktown, the two-stage fusion of music and art will deliver 24 performances beginning this Saturday with George Morris, and brought to completion with Modest Mouse Sunday night.
“We had started the event a couple years ago when we were helping Freedom Hill relaunch, and it went over great, they are awesome to work with, but we felt in order for this event to reach it full potential it probably belonged downtown,” says Jason Rogalewski of the Los Angeles-based AEG. We had worked with Dan for a number of years doing events in places like the Crofoot, Royal Oak, and the Masonic, and rather than start a new one from scratch we felt like we had something here that would translate and work well downtown so we started looking for a site, started working with the Detroit River Conservancy and they turned us on to this park which is a great fit, fantastic location on the riverfront and super dynamic.”
The gettin’ will be good as local food trucks, crafts makers, brewers, and artists to give Detroit inspiration in ingenuity. This collaborative occasion foreshadows the future for growth in our city’s reemergence as the creative pulse of the world. Fans will be able to groove to music from both stages on the beautiful West Riverfront without the hassle of an adventure and indecision between.
“We love to do it because our business, besides the pure monetary selling of tickets, is to expose people to new, great music,” McGowan said.
While much excitement surrounds Modest Mouse, Passion Pit, Chromeo, Brandon Flowers, and Iron and Wine with Ben Bridwell, these fancy feet with be cutting rugs with Detroit’s favorite female vocalist, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas (8 p.m. July 26). A product of West Bloomfield High School, Jessica is as cool as she is talented, a natural crowd conductor certain to deliver an intimate and ecstatic affair. Her family own’s Armando’s Restaurant and Catering in Detroit, and no one has supported her more. I remember running into Jessica at the gym just after she had moved home from Chicago, ready to take a leap of faith and embrace the gifts she was given to make music, magic, and apologies for stealing your man in-between.
“One of my favorite things about their restaurant is that in a lot of Mexican restaurants you can only get refried beans, and at their restaurant you can get black beans and white rice along with the traditional spicy Mexican rice and refried beans, and I much prefer the more Cuban approach, black beans, white rice. Big fan of the restaurant, big fan of the bakery. Jessica has played a number of times at the Crofoot. She played a women’s event a few years ago which she headlined; that was a special one. It’s great to see her grow and take her place among the national acts. She’s a local act, but she’s a national act playing really big, prominent festivals, and we’re proud to have her,” McGowan said, with black beans and rice likely on his mind.
As fate would have it I had the pleasure of running into my friend and MO POP art director Jeremy Hansen ,of River’s Edge Gallery, while working from my Ferndale office, M-Brew. With a rich history in the live painting scene, Hansen excitedly prepares for a number of creative installations that MO POPPERS are invited to interact with.
“There will be a large live painting pyramid. When fans walk in Saturday they are encouraged to write their name and vandalize the Pabst Van, it’s VANdalism. Attendees will be greeted by pianos which will be painted and played throughout the weekend,” Hansen said.
Hansen and his partner Patt Slack first formed a relationship with McGowan when they helped him design The Crofoot.
“I was thrilled with the opportunity for live collaboration, versus sitting at an art fair,” Hansen said.
With a new venue and new team, Hansen believes they have started from scratch and kept things simple, with big intentions at heart.
“Even though this is the third year, with the move from Sterling Heights to the water in Detroit, we are treating it like the first. We are resetting the clock. We didn’t want to overwhelm the public. We wanted to give people something they may not find at other festivals.”
MO POP will be the third event to take place at West Riverfront Park, giving a great number of Detroiters their first opportunity to get acquainted with the easterly view of the skyline from the west side. There is free bike parking and even an express bike entrance!
“As you stand here you can watch the constant flow of traffic across the ambassador bridge, nearly constant flow of freighters and other water crafts. The other day we saw two World War 2 fighter planes fly by in formation. Then of course, you get all the city elements: the skyline, the usual city characters walking by, it’s exciting,” McGowan said.
All over the world people are quick to speak of the desolation and corruption in Detroit, but I’m telling you from here along the coast where the water meets the land and the risen buildings stand, it’s looking pretty fine.
“One thing we did this year we hid tickets so people can find them, throughout the festival site there’s going to be 10 signs, and call to actions like ‘have your picture taken with the skyline, river, ambassador bridge,’ and if you use the hashtags on the sign (#MoPopFest #OpportunityDetroit) you can win meet and greets with some of the bands, free water, merch, kind bars, and t-shirts.”
Just in case you were looking for one, This is a Good Sign.
Team Good Sign will be infusing an already festive scene with a healthy dose of Phun Photos, artist interviews, and one-of-a-kind artist interactions.
Facebook: This Is A Good Sign
$69 single day, $99.50 weekend. VIP: $149, $199
By Kevin Alan Lamb
Through the night I traveled with my best friend and partner in crime, the Postman, to cover a music festival founded over 20 years ago to celebrate the essential principles of peace and love. Our second festival in as many weeks permitted little turnaround-time before driving 687 miles East, to Seaside Park, for the Gathering of the Vibes. While the rest of the world slept we outran the anxiety in our heads, confirmed interviews for the coming days, and burned fervently on the caffeine, dreams, and love in our hearts.
We crossed the George Washington Bridge alive and inline with our purpose, while the city lights filled our eyes with a heavy pour of just what living is. After 11 hours on the road, sweet dreams and sleep would be the final destination for some; but we’re not your average storytellers: A 5am arrival meant just enough time to capture the 5:45 sunrise from Penfield Beach. We stood along the coast where the ocean meets the stand while the rising sun filled our souls with comfort and hope in the Vibes to come.
Birthday parties begin with an invitation, and this 20th birthday celebration was no different. My sister Lauren, her husband Brian, and my niece Fallon live in Fairfield, CT., 10 minutes from the coastal venue in Bridgeport. Before I even knew what the Gathering of the Vibes was, my sister learned that I was gaining access to festivals as media, and invited me to stay with her and spend some quality time with my seven-month-year-old niece. The day I applied for credentials, my request was granted: This is a Good Sign.
Good vibes and Good Signs go hand-in-hand. This four-day-fest featured a heavy-hitting lineup of locals, legends, and legions of the light. Throughout the weekend we had the pleasure of interviewing Nattali Rize & Notis, Relative Souls, Ryan Montbleau, The Brummy Brothers, Moon Hooch, Turkuaz, Deep Banana Blackout, Jen Durkin, and Trevor Hall.
The world continues to realize that music is the best form of entertainment. It provides a platform for people to share space, energy, and commonality in their mutual love and admiration for the music that moves them to joyful tears. This birthday celebration offered something for everyone, without the intimidation or hassle in-between. Abundant in smiles, first-timers, locals, road-warriors, intimate conversations, beach and black rocks, the spirit of Vibes is carried on each of its gatherer’s shoulders, and in each of their joyful hearts.
“True understanding is to see the events of life in this way: ‘You are here for my benefit, though rumor paints you otherwise.’ And everything is turned to one’s advantage when he greets a situation like this: ‘You are the very thing I was looking for.’ Truly, whatever arises in life is the right material to bring about your growth and the growth of those around you. This, in a word, is art — and this art called ‘life’ is a practice suitable to both men and gods. Everything contains some special purpose and hidden blessing; what then could be strange or arduous when all of life is here to greet you like and old and faithful friend?” – Marcus Aurelius
Following a momentous weekend a new friend of mine named Joan Shanley, who was wearing a Captain America mask at the time we met, thanked me for good vibes, and emailed me this quote saying it reminded her of our cause. How right she is. We are in this together. We carry Good Signs because people need them as much as we do. Not long thereafter I received another message that brought me to tears as we made our way home to Michigan, after a much needed evening of rest in the Poconos:
“You may or may not remember me considering you probably met 2,000 people at Vibes, but I wanted to reach out to you and tell you how much you meant to our group. We have been going to Vibes for years and your contagious positive attitude connected with us right away at a time when we needed it most. Our friend was tragically murdered last September and it was the first Vibes without him. The way you were so outgoing, happy, and smiling reminded all of us of him; including his beautiful fiance who mentioned it to me. Then we asked your name and you told us ‘6’7 Kevin’. Well his name was Kevin as well and we truly honored his spirit all weekend and like I said your vibe is exactly what he was all about.”
These are the precious moments that I live for, and find a way to carry on because. Our gifts are given for a reason, the very same as our deficiencies; and that reason is each other. Music is a song that sings in each and every one of our hearts; it will help us pick up the pieces and begin again if we let it; it will give you a chance to get to know your niece and hold on to the sparkle in her eyes when hard rains fall; and it will ensure the ones you’ve loved and lost never fade quietly into the night, because their memory is everlasting and with you so long as you carry it.
The perfect family and festival weekend was brought to close with Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals. I held my Good Sign high with tears in my eyes while reciting the lyrics:
“Take your face out of your hands
And clear your eyes
You have a right to your dreams
And don’t be denied
I believe in a better way”
By Kevin Alan Lamb
Created on this earth with infinite potential, only fear stands between the human race and our collective revolution through internal evolution. Children are given life, and with it comes the ability and necessity to dream, yet somewhere along the way these dreams are traded for a trace of happiness alongside a tidal wave that’s always just moments from crashing upon us. So we learn to swim, and cherish the breaths we are able to take before the weight of water resumes its place upon our chest; but there is a better way, so you must hold on.
“Generations will Rize, governments they will fall
We’re the only ones who will carry us through it all
If the words they are clear and the actions are strong
Oh my people we can’t go wrong… so hold on. hold on. hold on. hold on.”
Hold on to what is yours; and what is ours. Hold on to your gifts; hold on to your dreams; hold onto the belief that people are good and together we can change the world. A citizen of the human race, and planet earth, Nattali Rize is recognized around the world for her tenacious commitment to use her gifts to advance a global struggle toward the realization of Full Freedom, and the movement of Truth and Justice over the systematic exploitation of the people and our planet.
“I believe for me, all humans are family. There’s an amazing conscious awakening happening. I’m less attached to one town, one suburb, which allows for more of a global outlook which connects me to the world. Born in America, grew up in Australia, with roots all over the world” Nattali says.
With dominant Native American and Samoan roots, Nattali thanks her mother for letting her be the beautiful and passionate rebel she was created to be.
“My mother first taught me to play the guitar. She let me follow my heart and play music. She didn’t make me finish school. She allowed me to be me.”
Rebel DNA is in all of our blood, but not everyone chooses to hold on to the courage necessary to look an oppressor in the eyes, and recognize darkness beneath its disguise, casting aside its self-serving lies.
“Staring down their lie of democracy will you fight on your feet or live upon your knees? This is not the way that life’s supposed to be I’m callin’, callin’ yeah.”
Nattali is a soldier armed not with weapons, but wisdom, a microphone, and the gumption to let her voice be a window for her rebel-soul to shine through and illuminate the darkness! She is a desperately needed call to action in a world ran by bureaucracy without traction. Her lyrics alleviate the fear in us, carrying a message that is a blessing bestowed to reduce weariness.
“We don’t just get on stage and play music, it’s a mission and it’s really important to connect and try to help us remember that we have more power and potential than we’re lead to believe. We need to put our energy into creating a system that serves all people.”
A people divided against itself will fall; but together, we are the ocean and if you rise to the occasion you will feel the tide turning, cooling fires burning, satisfying a soul yearning for something more magnificent than learning to surrender dreams in place of another’s idealism.
“Music is inspired by uprisings and I love it. In music, over the last 10 years every song of mine is about something important, and lately, lyrics are being heard, with not a word wasted. People are tuning in and coming up to me after a show and thanking me. We need to use our words more wisely. I would like to see more artists make more conscious music. Use your microphone to say something positive. I understand art is art, and there’s a lot going on in this world, but say something real. Sometimes I listen to popular music when I want to hear what’s going on, to see what level of consciousness we are really at.”
If you have children listen to the music they are being fed. If you have ears create a filter to recognize corporate propaganda. If you have fingers use them to change the channel.
“…Enuff corporate noise in the ears of the youth… Time to spread the Truth.”
Influenced heavily by reggae, Nattali describes her music as World Beat. Lyrical. New Era. No matter where her music takes her she is accompanied by high energy and a tendency to leave her fingerprints upon a soul.
“Music is a power medium that will be carried on for a long time and remain relevant, and ever present. Frequency, mecca, vibration… music is a way to resonate together, and create this energetic vortex.”
After spending most of 2014 living, writing, and recording in Kingston Jamaica, Nattali is a fierce phoenix on fire, blazing stages with cutting edge Jamaican live band and production crew, NOTIS.
“Bob Marley is a real rebel artist. Jimi Hendrix had pure and pig energy. He cut my imagination and heart as a young musician. I didn’t know what it was, but it had a vibe, and I was drawn to something. I connected to rhythm when I was young, but lyrics more so now.”
Her energy, enthusiasm, and regard for our people and planet parallel fellow rebel-rockers Nahko Bear and Michael Franti.
“I saw Michael perform for 10 years, he is a major inspiration. His music is conscious; he walks his cause. There’s no other live show where people free up instantly. There is an evolving energy, intense love, and celebration when Michael Franti and Spearhead are in the room. Nahko is a friend of mine, we’ve never recorded anything together, but we’ve played together a few times on stage.”
In a crowd of thousands, it will still feel as if Nattali is speaking just to you. Her music infuses and invigorates, while planting the necessary seeds within a soul to soar.
“An internal self-conscious revolution – that’s how we are changing the world. Manifest destiny. That is energy in itself. It’s time we realize our potential and power.”
After spending time recording with Bob Marley’s sons in Jamaica, Nattali looks to the legend for the last song she wants to hear before she leaves this earth.
“Bob is everywhere. There are still a lot more songs for me to hear, but ‘Ride Natty Ride’.”
Never surrender the infinite potential you were given in this life. No matter your struggle, you are not alone, and together we can turn the tide.
“Government will fall and only we can carry us through it all. Government has to fall. People need to take power back, we can’t for politicians to make positive change. The system is not set up for us. I see younger and younger, 10-and-11-year-old activists. We’ve seen it before, but we’re back. Hold on to each other, we are the majority, the government is the minority. Hold on, focus, it feels like you’re the only one but you’re not the only one… ever.”
By Kevin Alan Lamb
With sweat still beading down his forehead, Trevor Hall collected his breath after shining bright in the August, Connecticut sun. The Green Vibes Stage provided the perfect elements for Trevor’s moving temple: a gentle coastal breeze blew through the green leaves in the trees as we ventured on a spiritual journey, accompanied by an eclectic mix of acoustic rock, reggae and Sanskrit chanting.
“Take me to the table where we all dine together
And pluck me from the crowd and return me to my sender
Whatever path you follow push on till tomorrow
Love all serve all and create no sorrow.”
A native of Hilton Head, SC., Trevor recorded his first album (The Rascals Have Returned) at 16, and discovered that music wasn’t just a profession, but a window to his soul and spirit.
“Music was never a thing where I was like going to be a musician. It was the natural thing and before I knew it, it is what I was doing,” Trevor said.
Intent on developing his gifts and exploring his spirituality, the singer-songwriter discovered early that music was much more than just passion. In the shade of weeping willows, Trevor played harmonica with his father by his side, forging a relationship with music that continues to guide him to a greater sense of being.
“Come one and all, come stand tall
And whatever you’re approaching dance or meditation
If you got love along than you shall reach the station
You find a road, the supreme abode
In this city all hearts shine like gold”
His lyrics, like mystical poetry, resonate deep beneath the skin. They remind us that no matter our differences, with love and each other, our paths will one day align. While studying classical guitar at Idyllwild Arts Academy in Los Angeles, Trevor was introduced to yoga and spiritual practices found in India. Interwoven in his music are the names and teachings of divinities, within which are apparent universal messages for the betterment of our people and planet.
“Do you remember when the oceans sang in hymns
Do you remember when the stars used to play
Do you remember when we used to share our food
Well I do every second of the day”
At just 28 years young, it is always interesting to discover who, and what encouraged an artist’s road to righteousness.
“A lot of musicians I think, ya know Bob Marley, Ben Harper, who’s playing tomorrow night is a huge influence. But I like to read to a lot of mystic poets like Kabir and Rumi, Hafez, these types of poets really inspire me in that kind of way. Just passing down the songs they sang to us,” Trevor said.
Widely-recognized by his trademark-dreadlocks, curiosity manifest how it felt to perform with his clean new look.
“Today it feels pretty damn good. It’s cool, I think by now I’ve gotten used to it, but when I look at pictures and stuff I’m like ‘aww man’, but I like it, it’s a good change and a fresh start. I had my dreads for seven years, and before that I didn’t cut my hair for seven years, so it was like 14 without cutting my hair.”
While many mothers go years before learning of their child’s first tattoo, Trevor’s Mom drove him to the parlor.
“My first tattoo is this one on my foot. My mom took me when I was 16, and when she took me she said ‘Trevor, I will only let you get this tattoo if you promise it’s the only one you get’, and I said ‘I promise Mom’” releasing a good chuckle.
“I obviously broke that promise right away. I’m in a comfy space right now, I haven’t gotten one in a while, I don’t really have anything inspirational, yet.”
Surreal as it is, great lyricists often inspire the forging of flesh.
“A lot of people get a lyric from ‘Unity’: Love all serve all and create no sorrow. But this one guy came up to me a few weeks ago and said ‘Hey man I got your lyrics tattooed on my arm’ and I was reading them and was like ‘Oh my God those are the wrong lyrics, I didn’t say that’, but I didn’t tell him that, I said ‘that looks great man!’”
Given the opportunity to share the stage with anyone in the next six months, Trevor would love to play with Ben Harper again.
“My favorite Ben Harper album hands down is The Will To Live, just from front to back, that’s the first Ben Harper album I heard and I was like ohhh my God. I’d also love to play with John Butler Trio, and there’s some Indian musicians I’d like to collaborate with and see how it goes.”
Trevor takes annual trips to India to fuel his creativity and motivation for his music. As a testament of his gratitude for the lessons and experiences elicited from his journeys East, Trevor uses donations collected at his live shows to support an ashram in Allahabad, India. It is home to his Guru, where underprivileged and orphaned boys and girls are given hope of a better life and a traditional Vedic education.
Gratitude is rich within Trevor’s music, and his next album is no exception. Written in Hawaii and recorded in L.A., Kala, which means ‘time’ in Sanskrit, is a tribute to his grandmother and the gift of time which she gave him.
“I have written a song on this new album that was inspired by my Grandmother, but this one song in particular is called ‘You Can’t Rush Your Healing’ that is coming out on our new album August 21st, so that’s kind of special to give that back to her. There’s so many people that I’d love to write songs for, so many inspirations who lifted me up over the years, I’m grateful for that.”
After 12 years on stage in the greatest venues across the globe, it is curious which remain on Trevor’s bucket list…
“There’s this place in Bali called the Uluwatu Surf Villas, and it sits right on the cliff. A lot of my friends have played there like Xavier Rudd, Justin Thompson, and Nahko Bear. I’d love to play the Gorge, and Red Rocks again. I played Red Rocks the first time with John Butler, the second time with Michael Franti. Red Rocks is amazing. It’s funny because people ask ‘how’s the show there?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t remember’, you’re in awe…”
After a decade of consistent touring, Trevor took a break from the stage in 2013, and ventured on an extended pilgrimage to India. He spent multiple weeks there and studied under a classical Baul musician born and trained in the villages of Bengal. Years prior to this great adventure, Trevor learned from another legend.
“We did a tour with Jimmy Cliff, and the guy is like 65-70 years old and he moves like an electrically charged machine. Amazing words and amazing energy. Some of those guys just have the spirit and they go.”
Best known among mainstream audiences for songs such as “Wonderful World, and Beautiful People”, Cliff is the only living musician to hold the Order of Merit, the highest honour that can be granted by the Jamaican government for achievements in the arts and sciences.
Blessed with devout spirituality, song, world travel, and adoring fans, what else is there for a decorated performing artist?
“Being a touring musician, teleportation sounds pretty nice when you have 12 hours of driving. But the power of healing would be pretty awesome” Trevor said with a smile.
If you find yourself alone, let his lyrics stand by your side. When you find your heart weary, love all, serve all, and create no sorrow.
“Music is so many things, to so many people, and with me, it’s me exploring my spiritual life.”
By Kevin Alan Lamb
It is a spectacular time to be living. A universal shift has occurred. Mankind has collectively, and subconsciously decided that time has expired, waiting on the world to change itself. Without knowing it, our species intuited that it is time for a protagonist to arise from apathy, and take up arms for the betterment of our world, and our species. No longer could we pretend that suffering can be categorized into compartments, weighted based on its immediate threat, or inconvenience to our accustomed lifestyle. No matter the oceans between us, it is our duty to serve one another, and utilize the gifts we’ve been given to ease the suffering of our people, and planet. #thisisagoodsign
By Kevin Alan Lamb
“And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.”
For the first time in 44 years, the Oakland Raiders took the field with a rookie quarterback at the helm. Son to Rodger and Sheryl, brother to David and Darren, Derek Carr was delivered into this world with faith, football, and a golden arm gifted from God.
“I have a very strong faith in God. He is the reason I play football. He has given me this special talent and I want to use it to glorify Him. I am grateful for the opportunity to further His kingdom by sharing my faith on and off the football field. At any moment, any second, my football career could be taken away, but my faith and relationship with God will never be taken from me,” Carr says.
(Related: Justin Forsett, a vessel for His glory)
Selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Carr left Fresno State the way a classic hero rides off into a Western sunset. He is one of 19 quarterbacks in FS history to throw for over 10,000 career yards, and 100 touchdowns. His 12,842-yard career passing total is good for 13th in FS history. In 2013 he won the Sammy Baugh Award, given to the nation’s top passer.
The 6-foot-3 Carr ended his collegiate career with a 113-to-24 touchdown-to-interception ratio (4.71), second highest in FS history for quarterbacks who have thrown over 100 career touchdowns, behind only Boise State’s Kellen Moore (5.07 in 2008). With 50 touchdown passes in 2013, he tied for the fourth-most in FS single-season history.
“The three most important things in my life are faith, family, and football,” Carr says. In that order, we add.
(Related: Detroit Lions HOPE Africa)
No matter his achievements on the field, the product of Clemens High School (Sugar Land, Texas) holds himself to a higher standard, and will not be defined by football. No matter your talent, and no matter your faith, without practice even great men falter from the path of righteousness.
Read full article on The Increase
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At only 22, this Christian’s best was summoned to ensure that he stayed afloat as thunder and lightning crashed upon him. Forsett’s faith filled him with the strength to trust God in his darkest hour, and navigate calamitous storms while holding true to the treasures in his heart.
Within one month of his rookie season, the California Golden Bear was released by both Seattle and Indianapolis, while learning that his mom, Albertina, was losing her battle with cancer.
“A couple of days before that, my dad had told me that my mom, who had been battling cancer for a while, maybe only had a year to live,” he remembers. “I was at a point where I was a rookie, I’d been cut twice, and I was sending money back home whenever I got it to help my mom go through treatment and pay for insurance. I had the burden to not only find a way to provide for myself, but to provide and take care of my mom. It was heart-crushing.”
Read the full story on The Increase
Write to Kevin and share your inspirational story. He loves people. He loves you!