Social Distance Sing

We all have reasons to practice social distancing.
Maybe your work depends on you staying healthy.
Maybe someone in your life has a compromised immune system.
Maybe you just understand that this is the most important thing we can all do right now.

Either way, this situation can be isolating, and difficult, and many of us still want to connect. That is what this project is all about. 

I want to hear from all of you about this experience. It could be about how difficult it is to explain all of this to your kids. It could be the much needed little moments of humor you serendipitously find. It could be tackling a project that you have had on the back burner for too long.

Tell me how this experience has been for you and I will use your responses in several songs over the next few weeks. Or, feel free to add a verse or a couple of lines to one of the songs that I am working on right now (I will post drafts shortly). If you want to sing it and post a video, even better.

Here are a few questions to help get you started.
Why are you practicing social distancing?
What are some of the things you are thankful for right now?
What are you looking forward to when this is all over?

Feel free to post in the comments, or send me a message with your reflection.
Sing alone together 
Because we still wonder whether
The music we can make will be healing.

Sing about the world without
The harmony that we can bring
Voices break the silence
Because of the science of social distancing.

Fix it Forward

Fix it forward is about to donate it’s 200th car, this Thursday. They have helped women escaping abusive relationships, parents who need to get their kids to preschool, and so many others who need help to get their life moving in the right direction. Thank you to everyone who is working to make a difference through this important organization!

Made To Move

PopTech is the coolest thing you have never heard of. Or at least, it was the coolest that I had never heard of until, somehow, I received a scholarship from the Bush Foundation, allowing me to attend and find out for myself what it was all about. I was not disappointed.

I will not attempt to summarize this experience, because the amazing Jennifer Gilhoi has done so in a way that is comprehensive yet artfully succinct. This summary can be found here.

The Poptech Community extends an unforgettable welcome. Everyone sits down for shared meals and is encouraged to connect with new people. That environment provides a place for everyone to feel appreciated and able to contribute.. And maybe that is why I was able to share a piece that I had written on stage. Thank you again to everyone who made this event possible.

Made to Move

The connectivity of the transistor shifted

Us from roads to networks and, as such, we were gifted

With the technology that allowed us to look back

At the world we inhabited, and the impact

That we had and are having as a part of just existing

But if our priorities shift and we insist on resisting

We can make a better world than we ever had before

But we can’t do it if we leave our identities at the door.

We take are whole selves and address this emergency

If we conserve what we have with intention and urgency

And share what we’ve got to rebuild what’s broken

Our dreams can exist, even after we’ve awoken.

Sometimes it feels like the apocalypse awaits

But if we long for the sea, we can change our fates

And we don’t have to bet the farm, in fact, far from it

Just imagine a better future and make the present become it.

All that we consume and the field where it’s created

Can be rejuvenated into something long-awaited

After ancient sunlight no longer shackles us to the past

And our social movements have shifted the power, at last

We can keep creating, all the while looking back

At the people and communities that got us on track

And, like that, we’re blasting past the world that was

And, it seems, that’s exactly what the fuck Pop tech does.

Because we were made to move

Instead of just standing still

We’ve got the thrill of chasing a better world until.

It’s within our reach

And we each have a hand to lend 

And in the end, we can prove

We weren’t meant to watch our dreams pass by

We were made to move.

And the people that we learned from instead of about

Are providing the perspective that we can’t live without

We need a groundswell telling us to dismiss hostility

Purely transforming the world of possibility.

But still, we, more than anything need to say

We hear what you’re telling us and help is on its way

And I won’t downplay our desire to uplift

And all we’re gonna gotta do is shift.

Because we were made to move

Instead of just standing still

We’ve got the thrill of chasing a better world until.

It’s within our reach

And we each have a hand to lend 

And in the end, we can prove

We weren’t meant to watch our dreams pass by

We were made to move.

The future of movement exists in our imagination

We have multiple modes to get us to our destination.

What do we want to say about what we are creating?

If we listen and collaborate we can focus on relating.

Our stories are the most important thing we manufacture.

Because narratives tell truths that the facts can’t capture.

Allowing us to shift past our present and prove

We weren’t meant to exist in stillness,

We were made to move.

Because we were made to move

Instead of just standing still

We’ve got the thrill of chasing a better world until.

It’s within our reach

And we each have a hand to lend 

And in the end, we can prove

We weren’t meant to watch our dreams pass by

We were made to move.

Heart-n-Soul

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I visited the Heart-n-Soul Community Cafe in Fargo, North Dakota. The food was amazing. Thanks, Food of the North! I can’t recommend it highly enough. Please check it out, pay what you can, and support local food for everyone.

When a life that’s full of problems might seem like all that you’ve got, its
Even worse when your own stomach is as empty as your pockets.

It doesn’t seem easy to find a place for breaking bread
When you’re broke and you’ve got your own family that needs to get fed.

But if you ever enter into heart and soul you find
A place where they’ll feed more than just your body and your mind.
They do their part to give the peace that makes us feel whole
And all it takes is a little heart and soul.

With heart and soul
All are welcome at the table.
With heart and soul
You get more than what you need.
You just give a little bit
Of whatever you are able.
And you’ll get a square meal
That will make you feel whole.
All it takes is a little heart and soul.

Lunch Aid

I can’t speak from experience about going hungry. I’ve never really reflected on that as much as I have over the last few weeks. I am grateful for all the resources that our communities, churches, and schools provide to address this problem, but it feels like we are still failing.

School lunches are provided at a reasonable price, and some students have access to reduced price, or even free lunches. However, there are some who still are unable to cover that cost. And when that happens, they either go hungry, or go into debt.

Lunch Aid is benefit concert to address this problem and raise money to eliminate the lunch debt owed by students in Fargo. When I heard about this benefit, I felt like I needed to know more and find a way to help.

But helping isn’t just throwing money at a problem and hoping that it doesn’t return. Helping means looking at what we can do to support these students in every way possible so they grow up knowing this is a city that has their back. Because these are all our children.

See you all on September 15th, 4-7pm at Sanctuary.

You Were Meant to Be

I wrote this song for my son’s baptism. But in truth, I wrote it before he was even born. Waiting for the birth of a child can be nerve-racking. You hope that everything’s going to turn out all right but you just don’t know until it happens. But all along the way, you know that no matter who this person ends up being, you will love them. And there are so many people involved in our lives and in the lives of our children and we hope that they will love our children and accept them for who they are and who they become. This song is not just for my son but for all of the people will help him become whoever it is that he is meant to be. Thank you for being a part of our lives.

When Our Little Ones Arrive

This Spring, we welcomed another little person into our family. Because our daughter arrived on her due date, my wife and I expected that our son would as well. He didn’t. But even  before he was born, I knew that I would have two weeks at home to adjust to this new big change. 

I am so thankful for family leave but there are many new parents around the country who don’t get nearly enough time. I hope that we can change that and recognize how parental leave is an investment in a better future for all of us.

When Our Little Ones Arrive

Art is at the Heart of Who We Are

I love talking about the writing process. It feels like it starts with the seed of an idea and over time, I get to see it grow into something beautiful that wasn’t there before. That is the essence of art. Seeing something that isn’t there and bringing it into existence. With it, we give a little bit of ourselves, but in the process we get so much more.

The Arts Partnership in Fargo feels like an extrapolation of that very idea. Dedicated people who are devoted to making our community better invest in the arts and artists for everyone’s benefit. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of this organization and be interviewed by the amazing Chelsey Ewen. That interview is available at this link https://www.theartspartnership.net/local-musician-james-bergman-connects-with-community-through-custom-songs/.

Give Cancer the Boot

Cancer always feels like it is too close. Our parents, our children, and our families and  friends are all just a few words away from having their life changed forever. When that diagnosis reveals itself to the ones we love, all any of us want to do is give cancer the boot.

I was honored to be asked to write and perform a song for the Essentia Health Cancer Center Survivorship Celebration this week. A friend of mine who works there gave me the theme and I was so excited to write a song titled “Give Cancer the Boot”. Because that is what so many survivors have done. They found out that they have cancer and then, thanks to medical treatment, lifestyle changes, and the support of loved ones, they were able to kick cancer out of their bodies. But we as a society are trying to do the same thing on a much bigger scale. Cancer is a problem that we need to address. And just like when cancer is being addressed on a personal level, there are steps we can all take to confront and respond to this threat. Through research into treatment we can wind up, and with dedication to prevention we can take aim, and with persistence we can all give cancer the boot.

The Man I Knew That You Could Be

Celebrating Father’s Day comes easy to me. My dad and his dad and most of the other fathers I know are incredible people that I feel so lucky to have in my life. But not everyone has that same experience. A friend of mine asked me to write a song as a gift to her husband. He had a complicated relationship with his father. Exploring those complex emotions in this song made me realize how grateful I am for my dad.