I think in the back of our minds we'd been wanting someone to point us south again ever since Matthew Perryman Jones did that beautiful take on Patty Griffin's "Top of the World." There was a great story Emmanuel Jal told us once you may have heard us pass on before, about how as a child soldier in Sudan's SPLA he had wanted that gun in his hand to avenge the death of his parents. But one night, camped not too far away, he could hear Arab music playing. He liked it and thought to himself "how can I like their music, these people I'm supposed to hate," and just that disconnect was enough of a seed to want to learn more about the roots of the conflict, how they had been pitted against each other by the powers of money and resource exploitation, and it helped launch him on his journey to be the great spokesman for peace he is today having since done many great collaborations with Arab musicians. Music can do that and it's why we're always excited to try and bring in new music scenes, new styles...it's something we want to do more of.
We caught up with the Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers backstage at Brooklyn Bowl and got treated to this great version of Will Hoge's "Too Old to Die Young." Regret as a theme, in lyrics and in life, is something we deal with. There's a lot more to the story of coming home that happens after child soldiers get home obviously, and the 'scars' are surely more than metaphors, but perhaps not surprisingly some of the highest efficacy in treatment of PTSD in these cases is through arts based therapy. In a way it's part of a great tradition and culture in central and east Africa, how art and music are integrated perhaps more seamlessly into everyday life than here, like the saying "How do you know you're a singer? You're breathing." Some of the drawings from returnees are tough to see a child making, but at the same time you can just see and feel the import of getting those memories out. And playing music, just sitting in a room and singing together the way Stephen and company do here, it brings that element together with a commonality, a literal being in tune with others right around you and a connectedness that can be harder to find in other parts of life or in normal conversation. So much great research has been done and continues on this, but I think in alot of ways it boils down to that, a chance to sync up, to vibrate with others. It's something music gives that we never stop being thankful for. Thanks to Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers for reminding us and to Sarah Schutzki who produced this.