Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Tour! New Tour!

COMRADES!

  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 josh@joshurban.com 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


Contact
 Josh Urban 240-682-2801 josh@joshurban.com Twitter: @DontJoshMe Instagram: @JoshUrban www.JoshUrban.com/DanceParty


 

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.  

   Regardless...no, 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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Back to the Lab Again

"Wanna dance again?"  I asked the stunning blonde with the half-inked tattoo.


"Nah, I'm good."


Ouch.  Cue the Bill Murry scene from "What About Bob" in the therapists' office.  "ow....ow...OW!"

(To add insult to injury, she was actually a lousy dancer, even worse than me.  THAT'S how much of a fool she thought I was.)  

I've been hitting the salsa clubs with an intensity, and besides the social component, I've gained valuable insight about teaching (by being a hopeless beginner at something), confidence, and rejection.  It's this last point I'd like to mention.  

  I got an email from a comrade yesterday, and she's wondering if she has the courage to share some of her (excellent) writing with the world, and her classmates.  I get it.  I'm still terrified of singing, even though I do it all the time.  When something is so personal, and we care about it so much, the stakes get dizzingly high, and I usually fold.  

  Salsa has been teaching me otherwise.  Granted, it's easier for me to get shut down, because while I mean to get good, I never want to go pro.  My music is my (current) life's work, so there's a layer of insulation and the ability to laugh off my epic failures on the dance floor.  That being said, it's still not easy to stare down that prospect of rejection each and every dance, from the ask, to the actual dance part of it.  Sometimes girls will just stop dancing with you, and say a really catty "thaaank you" as they ooze away.  Meanies!  But I keep going back.  I have tape on my living room floor where I practice.  I watch YouTube, I go to the classes, I stomp the feet, I gradually stomp less, the moves are getting better, I see improvement, I stomp the feet again.  If the girls are snarky, there's always more.  And there's always another audience if the first one doesn't like it.

The song "Lose Yourself" applies.  "He keeps on forgetting."  "It's back to the lab again."  "Oh, there goes gravity."


  But the fear of rejection isn't deciding what I do anymore.  I drink some caffeine, and hit that floor.  I know at the very least, I'll get a good Facebook status out of it.  I'm doing it over, and over, and over.  It's getting easier (both the dancing, and the courage.)

  Now, I sure sound like a big talker.  I need to do this with artistic stuff, and I plan to.  It sure has been an interesting experiment in psychology, learning on the fly, and that "few seconds of courage" to punch that fear right in the face (or at least stomp it's fashionable foot.  I'm so sorry, Lindsey.  If you're reading this, I'll take you out for a pedicure after you get out of the doctor's office.)  


  So, to Comrade A., I say...

For those about to rock, we salute you!  Have fun, give it a shot, and you've got this!


- Josh

 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Shadows

"Happy Friday" doesn't cut it today.

  It's been 14 years since the shadow arrived.  The elderly, paranoid neighbor called that sunny morning.  "You'd better turn on the TV, something's happening."  We hauled it out of the closet on the TV cart, put away as it usually was in my unique upbringing.  I saw the second plane hit. The elderly neighbor's paranoia couldn't stop this.  This means war.  I felt sick.  That night I crept out into the back yard with the telescope.  There were no planes in the suburban DC sky.  Humanity was grounded once again, looking up, dizzy.  Coinciding neatly with the destruction was the divorce of my parents, and September 11th seemed to mark the beginning of the Shadow.
 
  Today I pad around my house quietly, pouring tea and working on tour ideas.  The breeze carries the sound of crickets and a Chopin record spins on the turntable.

  I think about the Shadow.  About my friends, returned from a war that wasn't known before this day in 2001, their faces changed with the sacrifice that the Shadow demands.  There was my buddy, a young kid who used to run lights at the punk club.  I saw him the other week, barely recognizing him.  He was all grown up, and home from the army.  "I'm glad you didn't get shot or anything" I said.


 "I did.  Three times."


   There's guitar students who don't remember a time when the twin towers stood, and other guys sitting in the chair in my studio who would rather not speak about their time overseas.  "Let me know if you want help putting it in a song" I say.

  I've only been on the fringes of the Shadow, never having to walk through a NYC street or valley in Afghanistan, both choked with a dust symbolically bound.  I can feel it, though, and it's paralleled my coming of age and own struggles, while magnitudes lesser, still painful in their own way.  It's not my intention to compare war and loss to personal tribulations, as I feel that not only disrespectful, but inaccurate.

   I watch the trees sway and hear trucks rumbling on the highway.  The small businessman who owns his trash truck stops at the curb as I write this. Life goes on.  I've been reading Machiavelli's The Prince and planning The Kindness Exchange tour.  It's an odd combination.   On this anniversary, two thoughts strike me:

  Actions are both ineffective and indelible.  The attackers failed to break a people, and yet, that shadow is forever.  One must remember this in one's own actions.  What we do is ultimately futile, yet everything...everything leaves a mark.  I had a dream last night that I was rude to a beggar, and then tossed him a penny in a power play.  I told my mother with tears in my eyes "and he stooped for it - I know how he feels ."  I chased after him, hoping to give him a dollar, having a change of heart.  He ran away, thinking I would hurt him.  He never came back.

 The Shadow takes much from us, yet shows us more than any light.  For those of us still here to gaze at the sunlight filtering through drying leaves 14 years later, I think it's worth pondering.  We not only see how dark the night can get, but we live to see the day.  The dawn may be cloudy, but it's there, and so are we.

How have we changed?  What are we made up?  What's important?  What will we do with our time?


- Josh