I got to meet up with part of my house concert family again tonight to enjoy Brother Sun‘s music. I hadn’t previously heard of the band before being invited by the Lunazoot hosts, but when Susan recommends a band to me I tend to listen to her.
As per usual, I wasn’t disappointed.
They started with “These Hands” a cappella , and their harmonies were beautiful.
They proceeded to play an array of songs that varied between historical narratives to songs about social justice. Each of the band members was masterful in using both his voice and his musical instruments in creating beautiful stories about the different topics. Pat Wictor was on sliding guitar and regular guitar. Joe Jencks was playing guitar and bouzouki. Greg Greenway was on keyboard and guitar.
One of the first songs they sang with an emphasis on social justice was titled “House that Jack Built,” and it was about Jack Miller. Miller was a survivor of the Everett Massacre and went on to organize against child labor laws.
“My name is Jack Miller, I’m an old union man
And your standing right now in the house that Jack built
My pride is the work that I’ve done with my hands
It’s the laboring man that has made this land great”
The lyrics reminded me of my pride in being a union worker, and coming from a family of union workers.
The band also had a great sense of humor, and they had the crowd laughing throughout the show. Partway through the first set, the band played a fabulous parody of Fox News. If you are of the more liberal persuasion, you should definitely check out this video. You will be laughing!
Later, Joe Jencks played a song on the bouzouki (though his had a guitar body) titled “Let Me Sing You a Song.” This song was inspired by Pete Seeger‘s death last year, and Pete’s testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955. It’s a great song about activism and standing up to bullies, and it’s certainly a song that honors Seeger’s memory.
I’m not well versed in Pete Seeger’s history or his music, but nonetheless, different facets of this song really touched me. The water works started up, so I think I’m maintaining an 80% crying rate at house concerts. (I’m sort of proud of this trend…) As the song went on, I thought of my activist friends who organize for the unions. I’m proud to call them brothers and sisters, and proud of their work in standing up for the little guy.
One of their last songs the band played, “Lady of the Harbor,” was inspired by Joe Jenck’s grandparents who immigrated from Canada and Ireland. This one is a really great reminder that America is supposed to be a place of welcome to those from other countries, and the lyrics are still oh, so relevant today. It’s a beautiful, moving, and powerful song.
One of the last songs in their second set was “In the Name of Love.” I honestly didn’t recognize it until they got to the chorus, but it’s a cover of the U2 song. I guess I never knew any words but the chorus when I first heard it by U2. But I really like their interpretation of the song. And I love them emphasis on love throughout both of their sets. Some of their songs were about heavy topics, but they kept bringing it back to love.
And that’s where they ended the show: with love. I can’t remember the name of the encore song, but Brother Sun performed it in honor of the Lunazoot hosts’ anniversary. Needless to say it was a love song, and nearly needless to say, the tears were flowing as it played. But it was beautiful, and it’s not a bad thing when tears flow.
So on that note, I’ll leave you with love. Namaste.
**I know I embedded quite a few videos, but they are definitely worth a look and a listen. Brother Sun is really a fantastic group.