When life feels like flames, throw something on it.
To forget how to dream is to lose yourself.
Relationships bear weight. They are heavy.
Weight is not necessarily bad.
Weight holds us down. To be “grounded” may seem devastating if flying is all one can do. But our weighty relationships double as our gravitational centerpiece.
Relationships are heavy and thus hold us down. They are at times unbearable, disabling. They at times kill dreams.
Perhaps to drift off is not a blessing. To fly at will or to float away per desire. Perhaps the weight that keeps us down is what keeps us, us.
Have you seen a floating plant bear fruit? It is precisely the heavy soil and the earth’s pull that restricts a plants flight, yet simultaneously enables its bloom and fruit bearing.
We are elephants. Elephants do not fly, but they are still badass.
Click on the elephant below to listen to my song on relationships, on Spotify. Also available everywhere else you listen to music.
When life feels like flames, throw something on it.
To forget how to dream is to lose yourself.
Relationships bear weight. They are heavy. Weight is not necessarily bad. Weight holds us down. To be “grounded” may seem devastating if flying is all one can do. But our weighty relationships double as our gravitational centerpiece. Relationships are heavy and thus hold us down. They are at times unbearable, disabling. They at times kill …
My not-quite-so indifference toward one-touch brewing syndrome. Or what one may call the vending machine theory. Instant results may provide instant gratification, but the quality or lasting effects of such gratification is not warranted nor guaranteed.
Drinking coffee goes beyond the mere end-result. It encompasses the grinding, the tamping, the pre-heating, the crema, the noise. It encompasses the conscience of the experience as an entire matter.
The all-encompassing world may not be much different. One-touch anything provides gratification in an on-demand world, where efficiencies are bolstered at the cost of the conscience of the experience. Results. Results. Now.
We are not a vending machine society.
One day you wake up and realize that the mundane itself is the daily norm. Norms, you find, are composed of the mundane, the repetitive, the on-going.
I often see the perils of scripting a culture based on occasional spectaculars. Fireworks for the people that bewilder the eyes but minds that shudder at the thought of returning to the every-day.
Sensationalism, as a way of selling a food culture, has become, dare I say, sensational. This is done at the cost of accurately portraying the real people and their mundanes. Show the mundanes, because they are the people. Fireworks glitter once, twice a year, but they die down and are forgotten. The kitchen stove that births daily dinners and to-go lunches are daily grinds, are non-spectacles, but they’re there. And they’re the people.
Don’t mind the every-day. Or the mundane.
Stepping into the unknown is an exciting exchange of thought and process. But when lives are at stake – living things, like breathing, growing plants – the weight of that first step is multiplied.
Who would have thought that the very soil beneath one’s feet could feel so foreign. It was there, all along, but it wasn’t there. I wasn’t there. To know.
I don’t know what makes the ground “soil”. I don’t know its needs, its wants. Don’t know if it has its needs or its wants. Who am I to determine its wants, or to ask, anyway.
Who would have known that the earth is so compact, united, in strength and density, against all downward forces put upon by punishing steel and wood. The earth we stand on exudes its strength towards us unknown inhabitants, habitually lost, continuously divided.
To know, I tilled the soil to, supposedly, allow it to breathe. This, I suppose, was because I assumed that it was not breathing all along, long before my time, before my mind, to know, was put to action. I opened two bags of top soil and spread its contents over the tilled land. The soil contains compost, so it says.
Rotten things for sale.
We walked through the woods. We walked the woods.
Today, enter the realm of coffee + music, with the one and only Joe Kwon.
Joe: resident cellist of the band The Avett Brothers, Haiku drafter, photographer, cook, eater. Coffee drinker. One cool, kind person.
Here’s one of my favorite from the band – February Seven.
In the midst of non-stop touring, Joe took the time to jot down his thoughts on brewing while on tour, music, photography, and his passion for carpentry. I highly recommend that you also check out Joe’s website, full of beautiful photographs, showcasing the ins and outs of the band on the road, at http://tasteontour.com
Many thanks to Joe for taking the time to do this. Enjoy.
* * *
“I actually drink my coffee at home in complete silence. It’s my way of truly engaging with my coffee.”
INL: The world famous Avett Brothers are habitually on tour, baptizing crowds with memorable sets. You are asked endlessly about your music, but I want to know how coffee fuels those sets – “coffee on tour.” What are some coffee habits of your fellow band members? Any notable coffee routines?
Joe: I proudly introduced these guys to Counter Culture coffee a few years back after I struck up a great relationship with them. They actually gave me 3 days of training to brew pour over coffee and even set us up with a bus pour over set. So, since then, we have been making pour over coffee on the bus from the moment the first person wakes up till about 5pm. I drink significantly more coffee on the road than I do at home.
INL: Among the dozens of cities you’ve toured through, do any good coffee shops come to mind?
Joe: So many, but it’s funny I don’t recall the names of them. I just know how to walk to them from the venues that we play. Sometimes I’ll make a special trip, but most of the time I drink my coffee on the bus. What were some of the better coffee cities? I’d say every city at this point has a great coffee shop. It just takes some research to find the ones that fit your mood and aesthetic.
INL: What are your favorite brewing methods and coffees?
Joe: I’m a 100% pour over guy. I own several methods, but my favorite, tried and true method is the bonmac pro-cone with white paper filters.
“I’d say every city at this point has a great coffee shop. It just takes some research to find the ones that fit your mood and aesthetic.”
INL: In early 2014, the Avett Brothers collaborated with Counter Culture Coffee to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Center? How did that collaboration come to fruition?
Joe: Ethan Fogleman from Counter Culture Coffee actually reached out to me via social media to invite me to come tour their facility. I was living in Durham at the time, and little did I know they were roasting some of the worlds greatest coffee just 5 minutes away.
INL: You were not always the energizing cellist of the Avett Brothers – you started young, but as a classical musician. What prompted the switch to folk rock? What was challenging about that musical transition?
Joe: Before I joined the Avett Brothers I was actually working for IBM and I felt the pull from that life to come back to music. I always wanted to be a cellist ever since my first cello lesson, but never did I imagine it would be in this capacity. I’d say one of the most challenging things was that I had very little popular music knowledge. I’d never listened to anyone outside the classical greats. I could name symphony orchestras with great brass sections before I could name a member of Nirvana. Needless to say there was a lot of room for music education.
“I always wanted to be a cellist ever since my first cello lesson, but never did I imagine it would be in this capacity.”
INL: Before joining the band, you graduated from UNC with a degree in computer something and worked for IBM. What nudged you to shift back to music? What were your fears when you u-turned away from Corporate America and onto the stage? What were your joys?
Joe: My fears were that I was going to lose my house and everything else, but it honestly didn’t feel too daunting. I had come to terms with it. I guess that’s what it took, to not care about the money or stardom, but just to truly love performing and being on stage.
INL: What does music add to your coffee experience? Flipping that around, what does coffee add to your music?
Joe: I actually drink my coffee at home in complete silence. It’s my way of truly engaging with my coffee. It becomes a ritual. Coffee fuels my life on the road as a way to stay awake at times. In other words, home life and tour life mean different things to my coffee habit.
“Coffee is the thing I look forward to you when I go to sleep at night.”
INL: Your website, tasteontour.com, is a pictorial memoir of the day-to-days of the tour. Two things come to mind: why film, and why black-and-white?
Joe: Film because I love the delayed gratification, and film seems for finite. It does get a bit difficult to grab shots though, but that’s the beauty of it too.
INL: Master cellist, knowing photographer, and more-than-amateur cook. You do it all, but now you are also chipping away at wood. What inspired you to begin woodworking? Any proud pieces yet?
Joe: I’m actually working on my biggest piece yet, it’s a dining table for my house. I got into wood working after I had discovered a significant amount of water damage in my house and I helped a buddy of mine reconstruct it. I had amassed a bunch of tools and felt it would be a waste to just sell them, so I started making things. It started with cutting boards, then benches, then coffee tables, etc.
INL: Final question: what is coffee to you?
Joe: As I mentioned above coffee is the thing I look forward to you when I go to sleep at night. I love the moments that I have and share over a cup of coffee. I love sharing a great cup of coffee and the experience behind it.
* * *
Delayed start to the day, thanks to Jonas. The snow on the sidewalk has resided, but in its place another crunchiness, the salt, which is not as inviting. There are few places where I feel comfortable ordering the “coffee-of-the-day”, but Swing’s is one of them. Listened, from start to finish, the Bach Renovation album by Yoonseung Cho. Read that Mark Zuckerberg’s personal project this year is to write an AI program for his home. Some write code, some write literature, some write music; shame that one form is lucrative than others, when that form is artificial at best, while others are genuine. Zuck says AI is good at recognizing patterns but bad at common sense. Books and music are all bundles of common sense, art forms in which our common sense is jumbled, rearranged, and reestablished in a variety of ways.