Thursday, September 8, 2016

All Aboard!


  It's Throwback Thursday, and on this day in 2012, I was jamming in Charlotte, NC on the very first rail tour!

  I'm absolutely thrilled to be hopping on a train tomorrow to NYC to kick off the next one!  Proud to present...THE DANCE PARTY!  The idea:  Make a music video with the world to counter all of this fear and political nonsense.  I hope you can join in.  As always, it's interactive, it's worldwide, and it's gonna rock!

Here's the deets:

See you out there!

All Aboard!


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Throwback Thursday

It's exactly 12 years ago to the minute that I was nervously arranging my classroom for the very first guitar lesson.  (Thanks for your patience in that first class, Andy.)

  My mom's borrowed Toyota Tercel, perhaps with painted hubcaps, was parked outside the guitar shop, and the new carpet smell of the fresh building seemed a strange scent to start a rock 'n roll odyssey on, but then again, when does life make sense?

  With all the wisdom and foresight of an 18-year old boy (and I still can't decide if I mean this sarcastically or not), I had said "Yeah, music looks cool" fresh out of high school.  I was in a band making $300 a month, and applied to teach where I had taken lessons for years.  Green Day had just dropped their American Idiot album, Fall Out Boy was charting with song titles that didn't make immediate sense (well, some things never change, they still are), and that year's election of Kerry v. Bush seems like Downton Abbey in retrospect and contrast to today's circus.  "I say, sir, what about those swift boats?"

  I stepped out my own front door today, and jogging down the street, thought back over the years.

  Wow.  What a ride.  A generic expression of gratitude, no matter how fervent, doesn't cut it. (But believe me, it's there.)  So, in addition, I'd like to share something that I've learned from the last 12 years.

   At first glance, a casual observer wouldn't see much about the teaching room.  Yeah, there was always a Hendrix poster up, but the almost-caricature average town of Waldorf can blind those who aren't trained in looking.  But it's there, it's always there.  Whenever and where ever there are people, there are stories, heart and heartache, heroes, tyrants, and history to be made.  The author Tom Brown made the same point about an average front lawn with it's vast saga of flora and fauna playing out unseen.  The same could be said of Suburbia.

  It's almost a practice in itself, and what a fitting lesson for me to have learned as a teacher.

  To see the fretboard of a nervous student's guitar wet with sweat under their scared hands, but yet they keep showing up for lessons and gradually emerge from their shell.  To watch a young woman with promise take a dark turn, almost not survive, then find herself, her place in life, and accolades in a field that matters to her.  Good job on EMT of the year, Kelly.  The Revolution salutes you.  To talk with the writers and poets, the pastors and the mechanics, the moms and dads, the people who wanted to play a few songs for friends, and others who would go on to the Warped Tour and have students of their own.  To have them put up with me learning how to teach, or having a distracted day, or getting WAY to wired on Mountain Dew and a Butterfinger bar (although Sam did that intentionally.  I agree with his logic 100%) To see Andy, my first student, years later in Philly while on a street music tour, and jam with him among all the weirdos in the sit and have pizza with former students, graduated from modes and scales, both of us trying to figure out life and kindness and how to make sense of it all.

  Yes, there was a lot of music.  There was also a lot of talking.  Yes, yes, I know, Hunter.  You were right.  We did chat quite a bit.  I'm glad we still do, even though we haven't played guitar together in...oh what, eight years?  (By the way, you owe me a call, dude!)

  People say to me that I'm lucky.  I couldn't agree more, although I must add a clarification.  While it's an incredible privilege to making a living with a guitar in my hands, the music is just a fraction of the equation.  It's the people, their sharing, their stories, their connection, that really matter.  The music is a vehicle, albeit a meaningful one to everyone involved.  Spinning an 80's pressing of an Ozzy concert on the turntable, I remind the young boy sitting across from me with his mom that what we do as guitar players is "epic, man!"  His presence and his laughter during the lesson replies to me that it's more than that, too.  Thanks for the reminder, buddy.

  And thank you all for the lesson.

You all so rock, and I salute you!

- Josh

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Tour! New Tour!


  It's time for another rail tour!  It's time to make another music video together!  HERE'S THE PRESS RELEASE!

For  Immediate Release
Join the Dance Party!
Despair, USA -  It’s a funny time for a message of unity.  A peculiar time to talk about song and dance when it feels like the sky is falling.  But that could also make it exactly right. Maybe with a little laughter, we summon courage to take our power back.  Maybe by playing the blues, we lose the blues.  

 Meet musician Josh Urban.  He plays a home-built broom guitar and DJs on the street.  Spoofing the red-hot political season, the seemingly-endless stream of bad news, and sharp polarization between communities, he urges you to join the dance party.  Traveling by train along the east coast, he’ll be bringing a mix of rock and dance music to the street corner, subway, hospital waiting room, and traditional venue while engaging a worldwide audience through livestreaming and social media.  The idea:  make a music video with the world dancing away our fears and division.  

 Running September 9th through the 25th, The Dance Party tour is an interactive experience designed to bring some levity into the world, because sometimes the serious problems need a lighter contrast to remind us of our humanity.  

Get in the video!  

Ready to make a music video? Record yourself dancing (preferably to the official tour song), and tag it to #JURT on social media.  To really fit the theme, people are writing a fear on a piece of paper (be it terrorism or a mean dog), dancing with it, then crumpling the paper and throwing it out of view with triumphant gusto.  Send your video to and it’ll be mixed into the official tour video at the conclusion. (By the way, Josh is a terrible dancer, so don’t feel pressure!) Let’s make a stand - let’s dance!  

Tour Dates

9/9 and 9/10 New York, New York
9/11 Philadelphia, PA
9/16 Charlottesville, VA
9/17 Charlotte, NC
9/18 Richmond, VA
9/23 Baltimore, MD
9/24 Alexandria, VA
9/25 Washington, DC

 Josh Urban 240-682-2801 Twitter: @DontJoshMe Instagram: @JoshUrban


Monday, May 2, 2016

Damn, Daniella!

"Daaaamn, Daniella!  Back at it again with the dance moves!"

  I said it mostly because I figured spoofing the viral video quote would make a good story, but in hindsight, I'd rather have her number than the blogging rights...Oh well.

  It was another Friday night, and there I was, my words betraying the mature tie around my neck.  I didn't get her number.  And man, I never even asked.  

  But, I got a great lesson out of the epic failure!  Something that's unacceptable in my book is neglecting the things we have control over.  

  There's many things we don't.  Industry trends, customer perception, stray bullets...Daniella could have been like "Haha...NO."  But - we do have control over how we present ourselves, what kind of songs we write, how much we practice, and what words we speak.

  So, I for one will make sure to ask Daniella if she'd like to get a Zoolander selfie if I ever see her again.  The answer doesn't even matter.  It's the question! Oh yeah, and I'll also work on writing the best songs I can.  That too.

- Josh  

Friday, April 29, 2016

Annnd We're Back!

Greetings from Woodbridge, Virginia, USA.  The suburbia outside the restaurant window matches the obscurity this blog has been stuck in - but no more!  I'm baaack, and ready to rock!

A quick thought.  Music can transcend languages, speak to our innermost thoughts...and even make a whole room full of old people jump should on accidentally trigger a massive burst of feedback at the nursing home DJ show.  Ooops.  It's all good now, though.  I danced with a lady to "Moonlight Serenade" and now things are right.  So, wield that power carefully.

What will you play/create/build/speak today?

- Josh

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I Don't Know - Thanksgiving Eve Thoughts

It's Thanksgiving Eve, and the moon looms over the lower-average grocery store.  I look across the street from my office window.  It seems extra dark this year.

  The Kindness Exchange kicked off last Friday, with the hopes of bringing some light into the season.  I'm extra glad I'm doing it this year, if for nothing else, for me.  I saw a lady on Facebook mentioning how hard this season is for those of us who have lost someone.  A student's dad got some serious family news while he was sitting in on his son's guitar lessons today. Another friend, a grandmother, is being an angel in such an uncertain time for her family.  I've got a few things I'm sad about lately, too.  

 It seems to be a full plate for everyone everywhere I turn.  I've been working on writing a song for The Kindness Exchange.  It's not about wishing the sun back.  It's about it being dark outside.   Things are tough sometimes, and I feel that acknowledging that is a way to cope.  A theme I keep scribbling is the idea that you hunt around in your pocket, your hand chapped and chilled...and there, among the pocket lint, sideways and flat against the threads so you missed it a first, is one match.  

  I guess all we can do is strike it, and light a candle, a lamp, or a beacon.  Maybe it'll light both of our ways back home.  

  What is this match?  What is this beacon?  I'm not exactly sure.  Maybe it's a kind action...perhaps giving the likely scammer a few quarters at the gas station (it's gotta be a hard way to hustle.)  Maybe it's sharing a smile and a laugh with a stranger to show that light doesn't always come from things being OK, and can happen in spite of darkness.  Maybe it's being kind to ourselves and letting anger melt away, or starting a spontaneous jam session on the street.  

 If you have any thoughts, let me know.  I'd love to hear them as I try my own ideas to bring some light this season, both for myself, and as part of the Kindness Exchange.   

  And, I know that Thanksgiving can be hard for a lot of people.  I'll be doing a Periscope concert tomorrow (Thanksgiving) for 20 minutes at 11:30 AM EST.  I'm @DontJoshMe on Twitter.  If you're having a good time, or if you're having a hard time, come on by and join in the fun. I'll be playing some seasonal faves, too., actually, even because of the difficulties I see and feel, I'm extra grateful this year to get to discuss this stuff with you, do crazy tours, talk silly, and talk serious.  It's an honor.  

Happy Thanksgiving.  

Let's light up that night.

- Josh 

Monday, November 16, 2015

How much does YOUR sadness weigh?

  Metrics.  The world runs on metrics.  What's the better deal?  How what's the zero to sixty time on this car?  "Now included - your free credit score!"  

  When something bad happens - something unimaginably familiar...barely as the sirens fade in the distance and the corners are on their second coffee break, the discussion begins.  

  It used to be that I dreaded the politics.  Watching the second tower fall on live TV on that bright and sunny September morning, I remember thinking of the wars and politics gnashing their teeth behind invisible doors, eager to run free and unquestioned any moment.  

  After Paris, it's something else...I've noticed how we compare griefs, like schoolyard children swapping stories about how their knees got chewed up over the summer.  "Why weren't you at their funeral?"  "Oh, that bomb was so much bigger."  Why do we feel the need to count mourners?  

  My sadness is not trendy, please do not suggest that it is.  It is willfully ignorant. As unfashionable as it is to admit, my heart, and my stomach, can only read about so much carnage at a time, so I do miss a lot.  But, it doesn't mean that I care less.

  I was talking to a friend about comparing sadness recently.  Her grief was the death of her mother.  Mine was my parents' divorce.  Apples and oranges, yet, on the scale, hers much worse than mine.  However, both of our hearts were split in two, and how do you measure that?  I've come to the conclusion that, for me, it's not a good idea to try.  

  As the darkness closes in, light is needed more than ever.  I'd like to ask you, me, and everyone a question confounding in it's child-like simplicity:

Can't we just be sad?

- Josh