Music That Fills You Up | Part 2

At the end of May, we chatted with our friend AJ Fountain from folk jam band A Brother’s Fountain who was embarking on a road trip across the Southwest USA with his bandmates in their 1979 RV, performing pop concerts along the way. Read “Music That Fills You Up | Part 1” here. The trip took them across New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah with the mission of reconnecting with each other and spreading the power of music. This trip, called the “Fill Me Up Tour,” was a success and we recently caught up with AJ to learn about the band’s experience…


Walk us through a typical day on the road during your “Fill Me up Tour?”

No two days were the same out on the road as we were often waking up somewhere new.  One thing that was really impactful was every day we would start with a morning “devotion”, where someone would lead us into an intentional discussion followed by solo quiet time, and then we would come back and all chat about our experience.  It was really powerful to press into intentionality with each other and our friends on the road who joined us.  After our morning time we would generally make a plan for the day, where we needed to get to, any gas station shows we would be doing, who’s driving, etc., and then go get after it.  

What was your favorite place you visited and why?

It’s really hard to say one spot considering the amount of beautiful Southwest America we experienced so I’ll name a few.  Flagstaff welcomed us in with open arms, and the high elevation made it a welcome respite from the desert heat.  We loved Southeast Utah as well.  We got to play a show at a steakhouse in a tiny town called Mexican Hat with a population of 14. Considering about 7 people were there watching us, that’s half the town that showed up! Moab never ceases to take our breath away with the beautiful pink and orange rocks and meandering Colorado River running through it.  Northern New Mexico was also a dream, filled with mountains, rushing rivers and friendly people. 

What were some of the things you learned that fills people up?

We were able to meet lots of great people along our journey and ask them what filled them up in life.  There were some really great answers.  People mentioned meeting new people, jamming out and making music, travelling, pressing into relationships, camping and seeing new places.  A whole lot of things we couldn’t do during Covid lockdowns.

For example we met one guy at a gas station outside of Las Vegas who was 20 years old, quit his retail job in Arkansas and was roadtripping north to Montana to start a new life.  He was also a musician and graced us with the most beautiful couple of songs in a gas station parking lot.  His answer was fitting in that he was filled up by the freedom to start fresh in life, exploring new and wild places and the ability to keep playing his music.  

How were you filled up on this tour?

We were able to participate throughout our tour in a number of things that fill us up in life.  We got the opportunity to do things we love like rafting down the Colorado River for four days, going on a 5 day backpacking trip in Zion National Park, and witnessing loads of epic desert vistas camping along the way.  We were also filled up by the jams, meeting new people, exploring new places, and pressing into our own friendships. What we found that was interesting is that we can often be filled up the most when we put ourselves in challenging situations.  

Were there any challenges that you faced along your journey? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them?

O yes, there were plenty of those, as any good adventure should have.  We were challenged by the sheer magnitude of 4000 miles of driving in an old 1979 RV throughout a desert with no AC and a loud hot engine constantly humming by our feet.  We were also challenged by the concept of playing music for little to no people at gas stations, forcing us to examine if we could get as excited about playing our music without the fans present as we did when they were there.  We were also challenged by the daunting task of filming the whole thing.  Any time something important was happening we had to be the one’s to get the cameras rolling and in focus as there was no film crew there to assist us.  Lastly, living in an RV for a month with a group of guys can be a lot of “life on life” as we say, and very little alone time, so we had to work through relational challenges throughout the journey.  Any one of those tasks is a tall order, but doing all of them at the same time was definitely exhausting and pushed us to overcome together in tremendous ways.  

One of your hopes for this trip was to grow closer to your best friend’s and bandmates. Was this accomplished and if so, in what ways?

Waking up and going to sleep together every day there was a lot of time in between to press into our friendship in various ways.  Whether it was sharing some of the hardest belly laughs at silly situations, or problem solving logistics and relational friction every day.  But we’re proud of the way we did it, staying humble, quick to forgive, and always willing to have a laugh.  The morning’s intentional times allowed us to talk about what was going on in ‘real life’ back at home and off the road, and we ended up getting very vulnerable with each other, it was incredible.  The times we spent together out there were beyond special and we’ll hold them in our hearts the rest of our lives. 

What was the greatest highlight of the trip? What did you learn?

I think the greatest highlight of the trip for me was the connections formed with people.  Connecting with the friends and family who joined us for various legs, and also the complete strangers who we met along the way who quickly also became like  friends and family.

We learned that it pays to ask people how they’re truly doing and listen.  We learned how to give and take, living on top of each other for so long.  Lastly, we learned how to turn on our flashers and wave people around who were interested or able in going faster than we were.  

Is there anyone or anything that truly made this trip a success in your eyes?

This trip was a success because of a lot of different people and factors.  Without our individual and brand sponsors we couldn’t have pulled this trip off, so a thousand thank you’s to them.  I would say the amount of hours we put into planning how this trip could be legendary ahead of departure has to be mentioned as well, without that intentional forethought the trip just wouldn’t have been as epic.  Of course having the best friends and bandmates anyone could ever ask for has to be mentioned as a reason for some of the success.  Last but not least we have to thank God for the safety, depth and provision he provided throughout the journey.  

When will you be releasing the documentary about this trip and where can people watch it?

The release of the Fill Me Up Tour films will likely be in 2022.  We’re planning to release them as a series of episodes with a fun vlog style incorporated.  You can stay updated on the release by following along on our Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or website.  

What’s next for A Brother’s Fountain?

Right now we are working hard to release our third album which we are beyond stoked about.  We are also finishing up our Only Music // South Africa film in the next few months so look out for that on the horizon. 

Of course we’ll get back out somewhere around the world for our next Only Music tour and plan to make it as saucy and spicy as all our last one’s.


Where would you like to see A Brother’s Fountain go on their next adventure? Be sure to follow them on their social media pages to stay updated on this amazing band and see how you can join us all in connecting the world through music. One love!

PFC Artist Spotlight | Larkin Poe

Larkin Poe, a sister duo raised in Atlanta and based out of Nashville, are a rising southern roots and rock group that has a bit more connection to their roots than you’d expect. Receiving their name in honor of their great-great-great grandfather, Larkin Poe, cousin of Edgar Allen Poe, both Rebecca and Megan Lovell are carrying on the family legacy of artistry, one stunned crowd at a time.


Background

Boasting their strong southern harmonies, gritty guitar riffs, and endlessly rhythmic vocals, Larkin Poe have developed their personal brand of blues throughout countless collaborations with premier musicians, ranging from Elvis Costello to Gary Clark Jr.Keith Urban and even Steven Tyler. Beginning their career as teenagers in 2005, the girls had formed a trio with their third sister, Jessica, calling themselves The Lovell Sisters. For four years, the sisters toured, wrote new music, performed at festivals like Bonnaroo, and self-released two albums of their own, all while honing their talents and refining their abilities. When the trio disbanded in 2009, Rebecca and Megan joined together to form Larkin Poe, and since then, have developed a masterful wheelhouse of old blues ballads and their own new-age Americana sound.

      

During their first three years as a duo, Larkin Poe released five independent projects and two collaboration albums. In 2013, the sisters managed to sign their first record deal with RH music, and immediately began their first full-length album, Kin. Following its release, the pair went back on the road, making appearances at Lollapalooza, Glastonbury (twice), and another stop in at Bonnaroo. In 2016, Larkin Poe contributed to Steven Tyler’s solo debut album, We’re All Somebody From Somewhere, and just last year, they were invited to perform with Don Henley and Jackson Browne at the Tom Petty Tribute performance in Los Angeles. Along the way, Larkin Poe has managed to release three additional albums, with their latest arriving just last week, November 9th, titled, Venom and Faith.


“Larkin Poe are not only highly professional, nearly perfect musicians, they also manage to add a new passion, modernity, and elegant coolness to the genre of Rock.”

– Vogue


Run In With PFC

We first heard about Larkin Poe through our friendship and collaboration with Robbie Robertson of The Band and his son Sebastian. They are both fans of Larkin Poe and once we checked them out, we too became fans for life. We were able to meet up with the sisters in Venice Beach, California, to record them performing a Live Outside rendition of Robert Johnson’s, “Come On in My Kitchen,” which was also featured on their 2017 album, Peach:

“We’re two southern sisters: born in Tennessee, raised in Georgia. Having grown up in the south, the blues has always been a huge part of our musical upbringing. In the past few years, we’ve been inspired to strip it back to our roots and pay tribute to the music that raised us… And “Come On in My Kitchen” was one of the first blues tunes we ever learned how to play.” – Larkin Poe


Tour

Currently, Larkin Poe is in the midst of a tumultuous tour with tickets still available for shows throughout the U.S. and Canada, U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, and Australia among many more locations worldwide. They will be traveling throughout spring, with shows booked until the end of April, and their full tour schedule and ticket locations are available on their PFC musician profile.

We are grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with such an inspiring and impressive pair as Larkin Poe, and are excited to see what more will come from the soulful southern sisters.

One Love,

Playing For Change

Audio-Technica: PFC’s Exclusive Global Sponsor of all Headphones and Microphones

LOS ANGELES, CAPlaying For Change (PFC)—the global movement that was created to connect the world through music by recording, filming, and distributing musical performances—is proud to announce its new sponsor, Audio-Technica, will supply microphones and headphones to all international PFC-related events. Additionally, the Playing For Change Band and the Playing For Change Foundation will receive donations of microphones and headphones as well as technical support from Audio-Technica.

Reflecting on their future relationship, Playing For Change CEO/Co-Founder Mark Johnson offers, “We have been using Audio-Technica headphones for years and are excited to have them joining in on our ongoing mission of connecting the world through music. Much of what PFC does involves getting audio in the field—a task to which Audio-Technica microphones and headphones are well-suited. Audio-Technica also understands that music is about people, that it’s our global language and heritage, and it must be preserved and cherished. We look forward to a long-lasting relationship with Audio-Technica and together, show that great sound is everywhere.”

Playing For Change represents the ways in which music unites us around the world,” adds Audio-Technica US President/CEO Phil Cajka. “We are proud to support their endeavors and we look forward to serving as an advocate for their efforts throughout the year.” That shared mission will result in Audio-Technica’s sustained presence in all PFC ventures as the organizations work together.

In addition to PFC Day events, PFCaffiliated concerts, and the Playing For Change Band directly benefitting from the Audio-Technica sponsorship, students from around the world who participate in any of the 15 Playing For Change Foundation music programs will also receive headphones, microphones, and Audio-Technica technical support.

For more information, please visit audio-technica.com.

 

Rasta Children | Of Roots & Reggae

“One evening, a few years ago in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, the PFC crew and I were waiting for an 80-year-old cuica player to perform on a Song Around The World. I remember it seemed to take forever for him to make it down the hill, as he would stop off in every bar along the way for a drink and some conversation.  As we waited I looked and saw a Rastaman walking across the street with his acoustic guitar in hand. I waved to him and he came over to see what we were doing with all our equipment. I told him about Playing For Change and he agreed to play a song for us while we were waiting. The result was an incredible, spontaneous performance of Dennis Brown’s ‘Rasta Children.’  His voice reminded me of Peter Tosh and he sang with so much soul that we realized this could be an amazing Song Around The World. Just one man and his guitar playing on the street set the tone for this song and we added a worldwide band of roots musicians around him. ‘I and I deal with humanity…'”

– Mark Johnson, PFC Co-Founder


Rasta Children’s Roots

“Rasta Children” was released in 1979 by Dennis Brown, who was known as The Crown Prince of Reggae. One of Bob Marley’s favorite singers, Brown led a prolific career having recorded more than 75 albums throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. It was actually in Brazil where his journey would end—falling ill with pneumonia in 1999 and dying of a collapsed lung days later. Yet, while his physical journey on this earth would come to a close, his musical legacy continues to live on years later thanks to a chance encounter in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.

With help from 16 different musicians across 6 different countries, PFC’s rendition of “Rasta Children” is a beautiful melting pot of talent. Of course, the Rastaman mentioned above is Paulo César “da Luz” Pereira, whom we met back in 2011. As he was the true inspiration for this Song Around The World, we are lucky considering all of the forces that allowed our paths to cross. Had it not been for the popularity of the 80-year-old cuica player, we may never have been able to capture such an organic and truly special performance, nor could we have gone on to share it with musicians and supporters around the world.

This meeting shows us the beauty in the world just waiting to be discovered, and the chance encounters that bring these moments to reality. One such story is that of another musician in this collaboration, Brushy One String, who began his career many years ago as a street musician in Jamaica. With an uncanny similarity to PFC’s earliest beginnings, a filmmaker named Luciano Blotta was leaving a Jamaican recording studio when he noticed a man on the corner playing an old acoustic guitar with only one string. After recording his song, “Chicken in the Corn,” Blotta left Jamaica only to find the video blow up on the internet with thousands of people suddenly showing their love and support for Brushy. Since then, he has led a full career performing in places like France, Argentina, Japan, and the U.S., while continuing to play throughout Jamaica. It seemed only fitting, then, that Brushy join with PFC to record “Rasta Children” in his hometown of Ocho Rios, and continue to promote a life dedicated to peace and unity through music:

“If we can change the words and melodies and bring back the love, we can have a balance between God and man,” Brushy reflects. “That’s what we need to put the world together.”

Brushy One String


Nattali Rize

Very much in frequency with Rasta Children’s nature sits Nattali Rize, a roots-rock-and-reggae rebel queen who has earned international fame as a singer/songwriter and social activist. Beginning as a street percussionist in Byron Bay, Australia, her career has grown through her dedication to an urban roots collective, Blue King Brown, and on to building her own band, changing her name from Natalie Pa’apa’a to Nattali Rize to reflect Bob Marley’s lyrics for “Rise Up.” With an emboldened attitude, Nattali Rize’s performances are praised for their, “epic, high energy, thought-provoking and uplifting live performances,” (Nattali Rize). Another featured musician in “Rasta Children” that deserves just as much credit to the success of Nattali Rize is Carlo Santone, a bandmate, manager, and partner of Nattali’s, who has worked with her since 2004.

Currently, Nattali Rize is just coming off a West Coast California tour, and will continue performing her latest album, Rebel Frequency, throughout France until the end of August. The full album is available by following the link above, and it boasts just as much of its Rastafarian roots while blending her own New-Era style and humanitarian message.

“Never forget, we are one human family and no one, man or woman or child, is illegal. We are the pioneers of a paradigm change and creators of a new world!”

Nattali Rize

Nattali Rize has embraced her deeply rooted rebel nature but continues to deliver her work with a refreshingly new style and feel that is unique to her world and her mission.


New Feature: PFC Musician Tour Dates

We are introducing a new feature on the Playing For Change website. Now on musician pages, along with photos, featured videos, and related links and musician accounts, we will also be promoting individual tours and shows happening around the world. You can view our entire musician tour schedule by following the musician tour dates link above, as well as access individual events by searching for your favorite artists’ PFC page.

While this is an ongoing process, you can expect more tour information to be uploaded and updated regularly as we are always collecting new and amazing musicians. One of our longtime friends, Roberto Luti, will be performing in Denmark with Luke Winslow-King this August. Find more information about these events by following the link provided.

Roberto Luti’s Tour Schedule: https://playingforchange.com/musicians/roberto-luti/


Quote of the Day:

“Playing For Change, man all my life I’ve been putting out love, but not like that.”

Grandpa Elliott


Photo of the Day: Bo Hème, @boheme.69

Special thank you to Bo Hème for this amazing portrait of Grandpa Elliott and for your continued support of the Playing For Change movement and its members.


Video of the Day: Happy Birthday Grandpa Elliott!

Please enjoy this glimpse into the amazing life and journey of Grandpa Elliott, one of the longest standing PFC musicians, and the closest to our hearts.

One Love,

Playing For Change